Parenting a college student takes lots of patience, understanding, and love. They are adults but still need and, for the most part, want your guidance but also want their independence.
The first few months were uneasy. This is the first time they are independent, and you don’t always know where they are, who they are with, or if they are safe. I am aware there is an endless supply of drugs, alcohol, and bad people on all college campuses. I don’t have blinders on.
It has gotten easier. She survived the first year, even with a campus shooting. There are many moments when I bite my tongue and remind myself this is her life. She must make mistakes to determine how to succeed and be resilient. Most of the things I wanted to comment on worked themselves out. Someday, she will learn tattoos are forever, or at the very least, painful to remove.
Here are my top tips for parenting your college student.
1. Pick up the phone. I have my daughter’s calls set to ring through, no matter what. They still come through if my phone is silent or do not disturb. Sometimes, I cannot answer the phone, but I try to answer her calls as much as possible. I want her to be comfortable calling me no matter what, and sometimes, she needs to know I am still there even though she doesn’t see me every day. Someday, she will have her own family in her adult life, and the calls probably won’t be as frequent, so I am going to enjoy that she calls now and treasure she always knows she can call Mom.
2. Watch the silly TikToks. I don’t even have the app, but she sends endless videos anyway, and many of them tell me how she thinks/feels or give me a good laugh. And it’s an easy way to connect.
3. Ask how you can help; don’t assume you know. Our adult children’s anxiety/issues are no longer our responsibility to take on. I am okay to listen and give advice when she wants it, but she must be the one to work out this part of her life. Sometimes, she will ask me to do something I know she can do, like composing an email to a professor. I tell her to try it on her own first, and she thrives 99 percent of the time. She just needed some positive encouragement. I constantly remind my children everything works out and that anything is solvable. You always have options, even if it seems like a dead end. If she is overwhelmed, instead of telling her what she should do, I ask how I can help, and often, her answer surprises me, or she wants me to listen.
4. Speak up on the critical parts. If your adult child or anyone else is in danger or their mental well-being is on the line, speak up to get them help. College is a time of so many adjustments that they may not see they need help.
5. Talk to a good friend. This is also a time of a lot of change for you as a parent. Sometimes, talking through situations with a friend who also loves your child and won’t judge them is a must. All those things you need to stay quiet on giving an opinion, vent them out, and let go.