Posts Tagged ‘college’

College is a time of transition and can be extremely challenging for the student and the parents. You may have been preparing your child for college since the day she was born, but how prepared are you as a parent, to let her go?

Here are some tips to ease the transition:

Adjust expectations… for yourself and your child. Don’t expect that everything will go smoothly. There may be a struggle in the classroom or dorm room… and that is all part of the process of growing up and figuring it out. Realizing ahead of time that there will be difficulties may help the parent and child form more realistic expectations. Remind your young adult how long it takes to form friendships. They may not find “their people” right away. Offer support but allow your child to work through the struggle.

Embrace your new parenting role. You’re not completely letting go, but your parenting role is shifting. Your child still needs you… for support and guidance, even though they are growing in independence and making many of their own decisions. You are now parenting an adult. A recent study found that three out of five of students reported that their relationship with their parents improved since starting college. The parent child relationship changes from dependence to interdependence.

My husband, my daughter and I at college orientation at the Ohio State University.
My husband, my daughter and I at college orientation for The Ohio State University

Make a plan for connecting. Discuss with your future college student about how frequently and in what ways they would like to connect… talk, text, video calls or visits. Whatever the format, plan to connect at regular intervals. You could even include the family pet in the video chat. It’s healthy to give them plenty of space, while still letting them know you’re interested and want to stay in touch.

Ask good questions. The most helpful session at my daughter’s college orientation was one for parents on how to best support their college student. The presenter shared “One of the best ways to love the people around you is to learn how to ask good questions.” Ask questions that get at deeper meaning than simple facts. Here are some great examples: What have you been thinking about this week? Where do you feel most yourself (your best self) on campus? How are you feeling about the friendships you’re making? Easier or harder than you expected? Who really seems to get you? When do you feel like you were really thriving this semester?

Encourage independence. Next time your child comes to you with a problem, ask what they think they should do. And then talk through some possible steps and outcomes. Refrain from giving advice and let experience be the teacher. Trust the roots you’ve given your child. Now help them stretch their wings.

Connect with other parents. Talking with other parents who are going through the same transition can help soothe emotions and concerns. If you’re a little anxious about sending your young adult off to college, you’re certainly not alone… I’m right there with you!

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu


DeBusk, E. “School of Environment and Natural Resources: Orientation and Parent Supporter session.” June 2022. The Ohio State University.

Harmon, M. They Have Wings, Just Teach Them How to Fly. Live Healthy Live Well. The Ohio State University Extension. May 2022. https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/05/24/they-have-wings-just-teach-them-how-to-fly/

How to Emotionally Prepare as a Parent Before You Send Your Kid to College. Parents.com. March 2021. https://www.parents.com/parenting/how-to-emotionally-prepare-as-a-parent-before-you-send-your-kid-to-college/

Thurrott, S. 7 College Tips for Parents and Guardians: Adjusting to Parenting an Adult. Azusa Pacific University. November 2019. https://www.apu.edu/articles/7-college-tips-for-parents-adjusting-to-parenting-an-adult/

Wong, A. How College Changes the Parent-Child Relationship. The Atlantic. Sept 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/09/how-college-changes-parent-child-relationship/598630/

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