Ways to Support Your Child in College (Without Overdoing It)

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Though it may seem that your college-aged child is all grown up, the truth is, they need you more now than ever. The dynamics of the parent-child relationship have certainly changed at this point, but in order to successfully complete school and their first years as an adult, children need the continued support, love, and guidance of their parents. 

student girl biting pencil

Students who have a healthy relationship with their parents often excel in college and in life a lot easier than those who don’t. It can be difficult for parents to transition from being the nurturer and protector to being a solid force and support system, but it’s possible. Just check out these tips below to learn how to be there for your college student – without overdoing it. 

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

You may think your teenager isn’t interested in talking to you all the time, but the truth is, they love to hear from mom and dad. At a time when life is constantly changing, it’s nice to have someone familiar to talk to. No matter how far away they are for school, keep the lines of communication open. Call them, send emails, reach out through social media, and even pop up for visits when you can. This lets them know that no matter what, you’re always there for them. 

Learn to Be a Good Listener

Parents who try too hard to lecture their college students or to push their beliefs and ideals on them will ultimately ruin their relationships. Remember, they are adults now so giving them demands and long lectures aren’t going to be as effective as it was even a few years ago. Instead, be an effective listener. As they talk, listen to what they’re saying to you, ask questions for better understanding, and only give advice if it is asked. 

Help Them Resolve Problems (Carefully, and Only When Asked)

Allowing your adult child to handle their own problems may be difficult as a parent, but it is necessary. This is the only way that they will be able to navigate adulthood on their own. However, if they come to you with an issue they’ve tried resolving on their own to no avail, then it’s okay to jump in and help. For instance, maybe your son is a senior in college and he wants to take the Medical College Administration Test (MCAT) to apply for med school. Perhaps he’s tried a few practice tests and failed miserably and doesn’t know what to do. Suggesting that he get an MCAT tutor can help him improve his test scores. 

Be careful with solving problems, however, sometimes mom and dad jumping to the rescue too soon could hinder them from developing their own problem-solving abilities. Before offering to help, ask them what they’ve done to try and resolve the matter on their own. When offering help, also make sure your child is also taking part in the resolution. For instance, if your teen is having trouble paying for expenses not covered by financial aid, find out what they’ve done instead of just giving them money. If they got a part-time job, start making money online, or took up a work-study program but are still struggling, then, you can offer advice or give them a small amount to tide them over. If not, suggest they try these things first. 

Show Your Love

Your college student is constantly fighting the odds to succeed. They’re still trying to discover who they are in this very diverse (and unfriendly) world. From bad grades to being ostracized from groups and cliques, they will go through a lot. The best way you can help them through these times is to continue to show your love and support. When they know that the people who matter most love and support them no matter what, they’re able to use this as motivation to get through the good and bad times. 

Parenting a young adult is by no means easy. For years you’re used to doing and being everything for them. Now that they’re grown and in college, you have to learn how to let go and parent from another angel. Though the transition can be difficult for both parent and child, once you get through it, the advice above can make it easier for everyone. As you begin to adapt to this transition, you’ll also tap into a new dynamic of your relationship that you cherish forever.