How to Handle College Transitions Part 2: For the Parent
College Transitions For Parents
The move to college doesn’t just affect the child; parents often feel the reverberations of this new life experience, and the relationship between parent and child shifts and usually gets redefined. The teenager is exploring a whole new part of life, complete with incredible independence and probably their first time living away from home for an extended period of time. Although they’re not currently living under your roof, children still need their parents, just in different ways now that they’ve made their college transitions. college transitions
A common symptom of parents with children who made college transitions is empty nest syndrome, typically associated with a house emptied of children and parents who aren’t sure of their role anymore.
Luckily, there are ways to not only handle these more personal changes, but also ways to cope with the transition and how to be a college parent!
Adjust Expectations and Communication Styles
Move in day is full of new experiences, and everyone will react differently; this is true for the entirety of the child’s transition into college. As a parent, it’s good practice to remove any expectations about how you think your child will react, and just respond appropriately to their actual reactions.
Also, establish communication guidelines. Although you may wish to speak to your child every day, that’s probably unlikely during the first couple months, as they meet new people, settle into college life, and join organizations. Pick a certain number of texts or calls per week to check in and chat, or whatever will work best. Communicating regularly (however that’s defined for your family) will help both child and parent during the college transition.
Set Financial Rules
Free of the house…free of the rules? Probably not. Depending on your family’s financial situation, children may have their own credit cards or have to work to support their education. Whatever the case may be, having a hard talk about money is important. Help them understand that a swipe of the credit card translates into actual money down the line. Budgeting per week or month is also a good idea.
Understand the Crucial Difference Between Supporting and Saving
As a parent, especially when your children were younger, you may have frequently swooped in and saved the day—because it was necessary. However, as children move into college and start their own lives as independent adults, you may struggle with adjusting to your new role to a supporter, and understandably so! You still want to protect your child from stresses and trouble! Instead, talk about the situation and see if your child can come to a resolution on her own. We’re not suggesting you completely abandon your college student in time of need; rather, offer encouragement and suggestions rather than solving the issue yourself. Encourage resourcefulness and resilience.
Remember That You Are Still a Parent
You may receive the random phone call a few days or weeks (or hours) into your child’s college life, one of their fears or excitement. You’re still their stability and their foundation. You’re still needed, just in different ways, and you’re most certainly still loved.
Your Next Steps
It’s my passion to be able to provide both students and parents with the tools needed to handle college transitions. I’m here to help whether you feel you need to process past experiences or talk about how to navigate present challenges.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help you