The quality also changes because they now need you for different reasons than they did in high school.
As parents, we have to be cognizant of their needs and wants, acting more like a coach, mentor or guide. They may want little to no contact so that they can be independent and make their own decisions, but they still need some guidance and mentoring. Parents don’t want to hover (like the “helicopter parent”), nor do they want to become swoop in and take over (like the “snowplow parent”). However, parents do need to be present, accessible and nonjudgmental while their young adult child learns how to be a functioning, independent and successful young adult.
This means making time as both your schedules allow and being creative. For example, calling or video-chatting with them during scheduled times, developing a system of monitoring their finances with them and sticking to that system, meeting their friends when you visit (scheduled visits, of course), or developing social media contact (not trolling, but not hands-off, either).
College-age children need independence, but they also need quality with family. Parents and families should reframe the time spent together to fit and support their college student’s newfound independence.
Effects & benefits
Establishes a parent-child relationship similar to an adult-to-adult relationship
Increased ability to problem solve when limits are tested or broken
Develops a trusting relationship with their parent characterized by open and honest communication
Makes healthy lifestyle choices
Develops strong social relationships
Engages in fewer risky behaviors
What you can do
Don’t bug your student, especially during their first semester. Allow time for him to comfortably adjust to college life. Plan on staying in touch, but arrange a time that is convenient for both of you. Remember that 8 a.m. on a weekend morning tends not to work well for new college students!
Use the power of email. This form of communication is an excellent way to communicate for both parent and child. With no parental “tone” vocal tone or body language that your child can react to, she may feel more open to share. In turn, parents can receive messages and have time to reflect before responding.
While visiting your child on campus, understand that you are now on their turf. This is a time for enjoying his independence.
Schedule visits and establish points of contact.
Ask general questions.
Send care packages.
“How can I help?”
“What do you need from me?”
“What are good times to call or come visit?”
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