Graduating high school and preparing to head off for college is an exciting and stressful time for young adults, but it may be even more stressful for parents. New boundaries are being set, and parents may feel the loss of a role in their child’s life. As a rite of passage into adulthood, however, the college years will provide plenty of challenges that require the help and advice of parents.
Embracing the new role as advisor and caregiver from afar may seem difficult at first, but a few considerations can help the transition go more smoothly. While the methods may be different, especially if the student is attending a far-away college or living on campus, college children still need their parents just as much as high schoolers.
Setting Limits and Boundaries
Perhaps the most significant changes faced by young adults are the increasing social possibilities and financial burdens. It is important to discuss finances in advance of the move. Let your student know how much of the cost and what types of purchases you are willing to cover. Discuss their plans for how the rest will be paid for. Most parents stray away from a hard-line approach here, and rightfully so. Work expectations to cover costs have to be balanced against increasing academic demands.
High schools are becoming notorious for encouraging helicopter parenting by providing weekly, in some cases daily, academic reports. This is no longer an option in college, though having an adult relationship with your student may provide access to information, such as their scores on the midterms. Social freedom is a necessity during these years, and partying too much is a common occurrence. Keeping the lines of communication open may require some extra effort.
Communicating in Modern Terms
Children today are increasingly reliant on modern forms of communication, such as texting and videophone devices. These are more convenient and cheaper forms of communication in many cases, and it is worthwhile to learn the technology that your student uses most often.
Adult to Adult Versus Parent to Child
It is tempting to fall back into older relationship patterns in times of stress, but it can be detrimental. When a child bring a problem to a parent, it is the parents job to both solve it and show the child how they solved it. College students are ready to begin solving their own problems, though they still lack the experience to understand all the options and assess consequences.
Instead of solving the next problem to come along, take a step back and consider it as though it were your problem. What options do your see, and what are the potential consequences of those options. Introduce your student to this necessary and vital reasoning skill by simply advising, instead of deciding.
Shifting gears from parent to peer doesn’t happen all at once, but it is a necessary part of growing up for parents and children. Begin the summer before college by discussing the changes and expectations openly. Stay in touch and enjoy exploring this new relationship with your college student.
Ryan Carter is a writer and accountant searching master accounting online degree courses to further his career.