You thought those days are gone. You were looking through parenting tips when your child was a baby and when they hit puberty. But now they are off to college, and you’re puzzled once again: how do you provide proper guidance without any rigorous measures?
Your son or daughter will need moral support more than anything. They are facing a whole new chapter of their life, and it’s extremely challenging. They don’t have their old friends. The studies are overwhelming. They are lured by parties, drinking, and (possibly even) drugs.
It may not look like it when you talk to them by phone, but your children need the most support during this period of their lives. Let’s see how you can provide it.
Tips: How to Provide Parental Guidance for a College Freshman
1. You Can’t Give Orders. Be a Friend!
The last thing your college student needs right now is authoritative guidance. You cannot order them to study more and be angry at them for not achieving the best results. Your role as a parent should be a supportive one.
Talk to them every day. A brief video chat is enough for you to show support. Ask how their day was, and what their challenges are. If they start complaining that it’s too hard, offer support.
Let’s say they are stuck with a research paper, and the deadline is too close. Instead of lecturing them about not starting their work sooner, you can be supportive. “How about you get help from Essayon Time, and you’ll do better next time? I’ll help you create a schedule and you can work on your time management skills.” That’s a much better way to handle a difficult situation.
2. Don’t Intrude in their Private Life
Yes; you want to be a friend to your son or daughter. But you’ll only accept the supportive function of a friend. Do not try to invade their privacy. Don’t ask intrusive questions about their relationships, friendships, and private matters. If they want to share anything, they will.
Don’t even think about showing up in their dorm room as a surprise. Don’t send packages of home-cooked meals, unless they ask for them. They should enjoy their privacy, which is quite new to them. It’s possibly the only enjoyable aspect of being away from home. Don’t ruin it!
3. Prepare to Handle Their Emotions
Maybe you didn’t know this, but college students are very subjectable to anxiety, depression, and chronic stress.
Your student will be emotional. Prepare to handle that. You have to be strong enough to handle their emotional outbreaks. They will call you in anger, sadness, excitement, and all kinds of extremes.
How can a parent help? Just understand what they are going through. It’s a big shift for them. If you notice that they are extremely sad or anxious, suggest help from a psychologist.
4. Don’t Impose Your Expectations on Them
It’s okay to expect your child to grow into a responsible human being. It’s okay to advise them to manage their time well, attend all classes, and start homework on time.
Imposing precise expectations about what they should do and how they should do it is not okay. Parental expectations can be too pressuring. You always dreamed about your child becoming a doctor? It’s okay to have dreams, but not about somebody else. Accept the fact that your child has their own journey. If they doubt their choices and they seek advice, you’ll provide it. But forcing them to do something else from their wants and needs is out of the question.
Maybe your child won’t become a doctor. Maybe they will become an artist. Let them be.
5. Give Them Space to Grow
Did you go to college? If you did, you remember making mistakes. A lot of them. You cringe thinking that your son or daughter may do the same things. But you’re okay now, aren’t you? You were young once, and you were a little wild. Do you really want to deprive your college student from the experience of getting a bit wild?
Your advice will be welcomed and appreciated. But give them space to grow; it’s what they need the most right now.
Enjoy the Experience
Freshman year is stressful for both parents and students. But you know what? It can also be enjoyable. For the student, it’s a completely new experience that may trigger some anxiety, but may be beautiful as well. As for the parents, they should be happy to see their children growing in the direction that they chose for themselves.
You discovered a new level of privacy, too. Why don’t you enjoy it? You can focus on a new hobby, exercise more, or start reading a new genre. Do not use your free time to obsess over your son or daughter. Give them space and enjoy your own!