As your child makes the transition to being a college student, you will also be transitioning to the parent of a college student. To assist you with this transition, we have provided some hints and advice from Bill Erb, Licensed Professional Counselor and Director of Student Health Services at UVU. Below you will find some advice from him on making your child's transition to college, as well as your own transition to parenting a college student, more smooth.
You may have already noticed that the relationship with your child is changing. Starting school is an exciting and important stage of life for your college-aged-child. As students enter adulthood, parents continue to play a vital role. However, the parenting role, goals and objectives have changed. You are now in the launching phase of parenting where self-confidence and autonomy are taught. It is important that parents begin to transition their parenting style into a coaching or advising role to facilitate the autonomy that is so critical in adulthood. Whether you are sending your first child to a university or your last, negotiating the changing relationship with your child can be a challenge. Here are 10 tips to help you make the transition. (Print a PDF version of College-Aged Kids 101)
10. Learn all you can about UVU.
Attend UVU’s Jumpstart Orientation (new student orientation is mandatory for all incoming students). Knowing what resources are available can be reassuring for you and your student. To sign up for orientation visit: http://uvu.edu/orientation/.
Jumpstart Orientation also offers a special session just for parents--we encourage you to attend with your student!
9. Give your student the opportunity to express new viewpoints and opinions.
Try to remain open and non-judgmental when your student shares his or her new experiences with you. Remember in adulthood most students eventually share their family’s values.
8. Be aware of unusual changes in your student’s personality or lifestyle.
It is not always easy to assess problems from afar, but parents know their son or daughter better than anyone else does, you will be likely to notice changes in their mood or behavior that may indicate emotional or psychological distress. Students do send out signals for help. Encourage your student to contact UVU’s Student Health Services for help, or call yourself for a consultation if appropriate. http://uvu.edu/studenthealth/
7.Talk to your student about overall “wellness.”
The habits acquired in college regarding health and wellness are likely to endure into adulthood. During stressful periods, it helps to get enough sleep, to eat healthful meals, and to exercise. Encourage your student to spend some time re-charging. Student Health Services has a wellness programs department to help students learn about healthy nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle choices. http://uvu.edu/wellnessed/
6. Promote independent problem-solving.
Many times students still want their parents to intervene when a problem arises. Resist the temptation to call the University or to give quick answers. It is best if your student tries to handle the situation on his or her own and to make decisions independently. Be a helpful consultant for your student, but allow them the opportunity and growth that comes from successfully dealing with challenges.
5. Allow space for your student to set the agenda during some of your conversations.
If your student needs support, the subject is more likely to come up if you are not probing for information. It is fine to ask questions, but resist interrogation.
4. Avoid telling your student, “These are the best years of your life!”
University life can be stressful at times even though it is full of discovery, inspiration, good times and good people. Accept both the highs and lows of your student’s experience. Students tend to share their good times with their friends and rely on family for their difficult times. While a “melt-down call” may be frustrating, it is a sign of trust.
3. Be realistic about financial matters, academic achievement, and the choices your
student is making.
Many students and their parents begin the year with detailed plans and specific expectations. Life (and the University) may not always conform to the road map one expects to follow. Remember this is a time of learning that will be accompanied by some mistakes. Help your child learn and improve by expressing confidence in their ability to address issues that arise.
2. Don’t overburden your child with your emotional issues.
What you want is to be useful to them, and you will need to find somewhere else or someone else to help you with how you feel. They want to know you care, but they don’t want to know too much. Keep them informed, but grant them a little distance from any family problems that arise.
1. Stay in touch.
Even though your student is experimenting with independent choices, he or she still needs to know that you’re there and are available to talk over both normal events and difficult issues. Make arrangements to write, email, or call on a regular basis. Remember the names of roommate(s) and friends your child mentions often. Encourage your child to send you pictures of his or her room and friends. Be interested but not intrusive. Send photos of any remodeling and of family pets. Send care packages at exam times.