Nervous Parents: Sending Your Kid Off to College

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

parents-children-college-nerves

The first day of school can be an emotional time for any parent. But when it comes to sending your kids off to college for the first time (or for their senior year), the stakes can seem much higher. Dealing with empty nesting and worrying about how your child will do when they are no longer under your care is never easy. However, you can address your fears, anxieties, and worries with several simple coping methods and strategies.

 

Worry: The Loss of “Parenting”

The eighteen-plus years you spent watching your child learn and grow were certainly some of the most wonderful and fulfilling of your entire life. It’s natural that when that time comes to an end and the child goes off on their own, the parent may feel a sort of loss or vacancy we commonly call “empty nesting.”

Here’s the good news: you’re no less their parents than when they were in elementary school or in high school. In fact, many college students will need your love and guidance more now than ever before! Finding the balance between over-parenting (i.e. treating them like a child) and providing guidance and support can be difficult. One of the best ways to build a healthy relationship with a new college student is to talk directly to them like you would a friend. Be honest, upfront, and share with them your feelings.

 

Worry: They Will Fail Without You

Some students hit their stride when they are more independent. Others need a push. No matter where your kid is, it is important to remember that they are now responsible for their academic results. There’s no helping them on science reports or reminding them a million times of their big test.

So how do you deal if or when your kid struggles to keep up? Provide them with resources at their school. This might take a little research on your part, but remind your student of tutoring centers, encourage them to see their academic advisor, and offer up your own editing help on a paper.

However (and this is a BIG caveat), you need to remember that they are adults and overstepping will not help them. Professors, advisors, and college administrators frown on or forbid parents from calling their offices or attempting to fight a student’s battles. While you can provide phone numbers or locations, do not cross the line and step in for them.

 

Worry: They Won’t Fit in or Get Along

College is a different experience for every student. Like high school, there are cliques and social groups, and it can be hard to make your mark or find your kind of group. Watching from afar as parents can be even more nerve-wracking!

With students that are more on the shy side or are having problems getting along with roommates, think positive. What is your student’s best characteristic? Share with them why they are great in your eyes and encourage them to seek out spaces where they will be appreciated (like a club or sorority). A little positivity can boost their spirits and help them remember that making new friends is only temporary.

 

Worry: They’ll Be Homesick

While you may be more concerned that you’ll miss them, don’t forget that they will miss you too (if not more)! College can be scary for them, even if leaving home for school has been their dream. That’s why it is important to share a bit of home with them.

Schedule phone calls, send fun and unexpected care packages, exchange emails regularly, and plan in advance for weekend visits. With your love and support, you both will get through the first semester (and beyond) of a new school year.

Parents: Going From ‘Empty Nester’ to Summer Break ‘Host’

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

It starts with dropping your child off at college with tears in your eyes. You spend the entire school year missing them. But then comes an extended break, like summer, and you’re ready to ship them off again! The transition from empty nester to hosting summer breaks can be difficult, but these tips help you enjoy your time with your college-aged kids.

 

Discuss the Ground Rules Before They Head Home

If your student is still in school, now is the perfect time to discuss what you expect of them during the summer break. Remind them that you’re not their maid, driver, or cook. If they have survived all year in the dorms on their own, they can certainly pick up their room or do their own laundry when they are back living with you.

You will also want to go through curfews, family time, and visits from romantic partners. These are all tricky, sensitive subjects that you can turn a blind eye to when they are out of the house. But when summer comes, you’ll need to reevaluate your rules or expectations for them.

Remember that they have lived independently for the last nine months. That means that they may be unused to checking in when they go out late at night or asking if they can eat out of your pantry. Your best bet is to listen to their concerns and meet them halfway, such as moving curfew up from 10 o’clock until 1 AM or later.

 

Plan Out Family Time With Them and Schedule It Online

Summer is one big opportunity to reconnect with family members. But for a student who is working, visiting friends, taking summer classes, etc., it can be easy to forget that part. Work with your student to set up a weekly night together to do something everyone will enjoy.

Have them pick the activity or encourage a laid back event, such as seeing a movie or checking out a new museum together. While it may not be something you’re interested in, the key is getting quality time with them.

If your family does a summer vacation, be sure they know that they are (or are not) invited. Talk about who is paying for what, where they are expected to sleep, and allow them to make decision on things like the hotel, the restaurants, or any guests (if allowed). Again, it’s important to remember and respect that they are now adults who have successfully lived independently. Vacationing like children may backfire.

Finally, schedule everything online. As we mentioned, college students are busy, even over the summer! The best way to communicate that you would like to spend time with them is, at first, an in-person convo and then putting the date in a shared family calendar app.

 

Remember: Little Things Go a Long Way

Having a college-aged adult living with you is odd. On one hand, they seem to want nothing to do with you outside of the free place to crash in between semesters. The next, they may be upset because you’re not upholding some silly tradition they liked when they were a kid.

First, remember that they are still sensitive to your words. Being judgemental on things like their strange hair color, how much they sleep on their days off, or their sudden love of frisbee can cause friction that can ruin your time together. So don’t sweat the small stuff.

Instead, appreciate the little things. Verbally express how much you love having them around or how you love cooking an old family recipe with them. Share a new interest you may have developed while they were gone and ask them their opinions on things like the color of a new car you’re buying or a birthday gift for your spouse.

Surviving summer break is a balancing act that requires open dialogue between you and your student. By keeping things light and positive and being sure to respect their experiences and needs, you can make it a memorable break for everyone.   

Parent’s Corner: How to Reduce Stress about Your Child’s Safety in College

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

After years of living under your roof, sending your child off to college for the first time can be a shock to the system. With so many horror stories about safety at universities, you may not only be mourning an empty nest, but also be worried about their wellbeing while they are away. While this is a great time for both you and your child to grow as different people, we understand that you will have inevitable nerves about them being alone. Thankfully, in today’s society you can more “plugged in” than ever. With new technology and some simple steps, you can reduce your stress and anxiety over college safety.

tumblr_mk8nsnSc121qzmhlxo5_500

1.   Stay Up to Date

You don’t have to be a college student to get alerts about what is going on around campus or if there are any emergencies. Ask your child’s university about how to sign up for text, email, and call alerts. These alerts will keep you informed on a variety of different situations from something as serious as robberies to inclement weather, or even a loss of power. You can also set up a Google Alert to inform you of any news on campus.

2.   Grab Contacts

One of the most important numbers to have on you is your child’s roommate. While you shouldn’t call for any reason, contact them when there is an emergency as they most likely are closest person to your child to reach. You should also know the numbers of your student’s department, counselor, and any close friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. But beware! Use these numbers or emails in a case of a REAL emergency or risk losing trust.

3.   Take a Safety Class with Them

A great activity to do with your student is a safety or self-defense course. Offered at many community centers and gyms, your student will leave feeling prepared and you will have gained a sense of empowerment to help in dangerous situations. Plus, going together can be a great way to open up the conversation on overall safety concerns you or they may have.

4.   Set Up a Checkup Time

One of the hardest things a parent will have to do is to let go. Not seeing or hearing from your child every day can be frustrating and even upsetting, especially when you worry. Before your student goes to school, set up an amount of time you expect to be called or emailed. It should be reasonable, considering that they need their space and freedom as much as you need to know they are alright. Every other day is a great start, attempt to make it once a week by the end of the semester!

5.   Give Them the Tools

When you’re packing for your student’s departure, you will probably want to go through a lecture of how to be safe and alert. The truth is that a lot of that information may go over their heads. Instead, gift them a safety box full of handy items. For example, pack a first aid kit, back up medications, phone numbers for doctors and family members, a list of campus resources (such as university police), and defense items such as pepper spray or safety whistles. Then, place it in a lockbox or safe that can easily be stored under a bed or in a closet. You’ll rest easy knowing that they have all that they need to be safe and secure while living and studying on campus.

What are your biggest concerns about child safety? If you’re a student, how do you help your parent stay calm? Let us know!

 

BacktoCollege2

Parent’s Corner: 8 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter College Parent

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Sending your child off to college for the first time means facing the unknown. For the first time in their lives, you will have to deal with not being there to see if they are studying or taking care of themselves. And because of some additional restrictions, teachers and administrators may not even be allowed to talk to you about grades, progress, or other issues that may come up. Letting go of being a helicopter parent, especially if you were one during the high school years, takes a whole lot of patience, love, and trust. Here are eight ways to ensure you stay grounded.

anigif_enhanced-13321-1406850925-5

1.   Establish Boundaries

Before your student heads off to school, discuss what level of your involvement you both feel is appropriate. Let them take the lead, and then follow their rules as best as possible. They should be the ones that cross the lines when they need you—not the other way around.

2.   Set Up a Communications Schedule

Another good item of discussion during the first semester is having a communication schedule. Calling, texting, or emailing too much can cause your student to pull away or want to connect less. Instead, make a plan to have a long talk on a Wednesday when they are halfway through the week, and not burnt out from classes. You’ll find the conversation will be more open and effective when there is a lot to discuss.

3.   Forget About Grades

In high school, the goal was to get the best grades so that your student could get into his or her dream school. Now, the endgame is to graduate with a job lined up. Sure, you want them to pass and have a sparkling GPA, but it is important to know straight A’s really don’t a difference on a resume.

4.   Focus on Yourself

The best distraction from focusing all your attention on your child is to focus on yourself. This is the perfect time to relax and enjoy the new kind of quiet. Go on a trip, book a spa date, take up a hobby, or even go back to school yourself!

5.   Avoid Surprises

It may be tempting to surprise your student at school. Don’t. Avoid doing this at all costs. While most students have grown out of the “my parents embarrass me” stage by the time college rolls around, being blindsided with a visit on campus can feel like a violation of trust or an inconvenience to their newly established lifestyles.

6.   Don’t Take It Personally

It may hurt to know that you’re no longer a part of their lives like you were in high school—but it’s not personal. Rather, it’s just the way your child grows. By constantly trying to be a part of their world or to take control of their actions, you are inadvertently stifling their development.

7.   Get to the Bottom of Your Anxiety or Worries

Oftentimes, helicopter parents put pressure on their children because of a subconscious desire to live through their children. Whatever your motivation, understand why you feel you need to be involved so you can address it. For example, if you want your child to have opportunities you never did, take this time to enroll in a graduate program or to pursue a dream you have always had.

8.   Celebrate Often

When a student discovers their new independence, almost anything could feel like a win. Praise them when they note they figured out how to use the laundry machines or compliment them on their dorm’s decor. When it comes to grades, celebrate passing, even if it isn’t the perfect expectation you may have.

05PARENT-articleLarge