A few days ago, my friend posted a picture of the most beautifully decorated dorm room I have ever seen. It looked like a catalog ad. Knowing my friend, she placed as much effort and thought into preparing her daughter emotionally for college as she did in helping her decorate her room. She has always been a devoted and thoughtful parent.
Since I’m not busy this year buying comforters and setting up bank accounts, I decided I would compile advice for parents of college students. Having made the transition twice, I consider myself a quasi expert. Below are my musings…
Whether you are looking forward to your child being out of the house, or dreading it, or a combination of the two, there’s a lot of change going on in your world. Be gentle and accepting of yourself.
If you are old enough to be the parent of college student, you are old enough to remember life without cell phones. It was cumbersome to call home when we went to college. We may have used one central phone. We may have paid a fee for every minute we spoke; we may not have had privacy. Unless your child is studying in a remote and foreign land, it will be easy for him or her to call home.
Then again – just because it is easy to call, doesn’t mean it will happen. If you want to be called often, be a friend worthy of calling. That’s right, a friend. If you are supporting your son or daughter, you can choose the level of responsiveness that you expect with that compensation, but it’s a choice and it should be considered, not assumed.
If you are feeling an incredibly strong urge to give advice, call a different friend. Call someone who’s known you as a friend for say, 20-30 years and will feel comfortable ignoring you. Don’t give this new friend/your son/daughter advice. Remember that this is a new friendship and it is fragile.
If your daughter actually solicits your advice, even then consider stifling yourself. I remember asking my mother for advice once in college and she said, “You have always made wonderful decisions and I know you will continue to make good decisions. I believe in you and I will support whatever you decide.” While I admit that I was frustrated not to have an “easy” answer from Mom, I have remembered her answer for decades; 3 plus decades in fact.
What advice have you been given that has lasted 3 or more decades?