Dear Parents of College Kids

Posted by Veronica O'Brien on

To all of our parent readers, empty nest syndrome is real! The house feels a bit quieter and lonelier once the dust has settled and your child is off to college. The first month you may receive daily phone calls as they adjust, but then what? It’s entirely normal to worry about how your child is managing complete independence for the first time. You may experience a combination of anxiety, relief, and confusion about what your role in their lives is now. To put some of those fears to ease, let’s clear one thing up - you will always be their parent, no matter where they are in life. Still, sometimes that sentiment is not enough to ease all of the lingering worries, so we’ve compiled a list of four tips for all the college kid parents. 

1. Be Confident

You’ve spent the past 18 years raising them; feel confident that you’ve raised a mature individual who is competent enough to make smart decisions. They know that you are only a phone call away if they need extra support or help. The hard work is over. Now you get to watch the fruits of your parenting labor go off into the real world and become a contributing member of society. 

2. Keep in Touch

A simple text checking in on them every now and then can go a long way. It shows them you are thinking about them, but are respecting their space. Ask them how they are adjusting and emphasize that you are there to emotionally support them through this journey. 

3. Care Packages are Always Welcomed

If you want to do something nice, consider mailing them a care package with their favorite snacks and other items they may need at school. If your child is living in a dorm on campus, then consider sending them a mattress topper. Dorm room mattresses are notoriously uncomfortable, so this small gesture can show that you care about their wellbeing and comfort. 

4. Allow for Mistakes 

We all make mistakes. When a young adult is thrusted into a new world of independence, they make a mistake or two; it’s okay! I was a straight-A student in high school, but upon entering college, I received my first F. My mistake was not adjusting my study habits to match the added workload. Making mistakes is how we all learn. If your child is struggling academically, reiterate that you are proud of their effort over achievement. Simply acknowledging their effort takes the burden and pressure off of them, which will help them grow and succeed in the future.  

We all know there is no golden handbook that teaches you how to parent (if you find one, let me know!) Parenting is a bunch of trial and error, and that’s okay! As your child adjusts to the college realm, the best thing you can do is support them and continue to express how proud you are of them. Do you have any go-to parenting tips?

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