Parents take note. There are more helpful websites focused on your needs. The Today Show has a parenting post, Huffington Post and The Washington Post among many others. We are pleased to see the attention by media companies and the help they can provide for parents as well as the excellent insights they provide. College Parents of America is here to help curate the best tips, insights and humor to help your student and family succeed.
We like to think of it as College 101 – but really we do more to support parents then just share articles. We are here to monitor the topics and themes of greatest interest to college students and their families and to help make sure that the investment your family is making in a higher education generates a great return for the life and career choice of your child.
We periodically find an article that is so good that we will share some of the highlights and link to the original article. Amy Joyce wrote an article in The Washington Post that highlighted tips from Marshall Duke an Emory University psychology professor who has given speeches for more than 30 years to college parents preparing to leave their children at school.
The video by Emory University on YouTube is worth watching and these highlights from The Washington Post useful to consider.
- Think about your parting words. The closing words between parents and children are crucial. Whatever wisdom you have to offer, whether it is ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m behind you,’ ‘I’m proud of you,’ say it. If you can’t express yourself verbally, write your thoughts down and mail the letter to your child immediately after you arrive home. Your children will remember your messages and hold on to them.
- Your lives will change. Younger siblings may be quite happy to see the older child leave home. I’ve heard stories of younger children who usually have stayed in their rooms suddenly appearing at the dinner table. If the college-bound student is your youngest, you’ll begin to reestablish a one-on-one relationship with your spouse after years of parenting.
- Children in college don’t become “college students” overnight. They start out as high school students at college. It takes time to learn how to be a college student — how to study, how to eat, how to do laundry, how to play, how to handle money, etc. Be patient – This process requires about one semester by which time the students will have studied for and taken major exams, written papers, given in-class reports, messed up, done well, fended off the “freshman 15,” drunk gallons of coffee or other stimulating beverages, eaten uncountable pizzas and attended a variety of college events.
- Don’t change your child’s room. The student’s room is ‘home base’ – try not to change it very much during his or her first semester away. Freshmen in particular can go through some very difficult times, passing exams, establishing new friendships, surviving in a setting where they are not ‘top dog,’ and often fearing that admissions has made a mistake — that they do not really belong at college. Give them a ‘safe haven.’
- You won’t be able to wait for them to come home — or leave. Your child will arrive home with a whole new set of habits, particularly when it comes to food and sleep. When my daughter came home from college for the first time she decided to call her friend at 10:30 p.m. one evening. When I expressed surprise, she said, ‘Oh, I know it’s early, but I want to catch her before she makes plans with someone else.’
- When a problem arises, “move like your feet are stuck in molasses.” The temptation is to intervene when a child calls home with a problem. Remember that many resources exist at college to help students cope with various situations. Express support, but give your children time to solve their own problems—it will ultimately benefit them. Colleges have many safety nets, including resident advisers who are trained to identify and handle just about any problem you can imagine.
- Let your child handle problems on their own unless … Parents know their children better than anyone else and if they hear what I call ‘that voice’ from their children – the voice which is different from ordinary complaining, the voice that really means the child is in trouble, they should call the college. Don’t come running, just call the college. Good places to start would be the Office of the Dean of Students or the Dean of the College, perhaps the Resident Advisor of the child’s dormitory. No matter who is called, all the relevant people will be notified and help will be set into motion. College professionals are very experienced in dealing with these situations. You encourage your children and support them. Express confidence in their ability to deal with what’s going on and wait for them to work things out.
Keep these tips in mind and most of all keep a good sense of humor when dealing with your child. It often helps to share the warmth of a smile or laugh that only a supportive parent can give.