From a parent to a parent:
Navigating our changing role as parents is a crucial step in supporting our students as they begin their college life. It is essential that we give them space and allow them to find their own way while still providing encouragement and support. Here are some suggestions on how to make that transition.
- Staying in touch by the occasional text, voicemail, or pm (can you limit it to once a day or every other day?) with updates about what is going on with you and at home so they stay connected – be brief and close with an open ended question like; what’s your favorite part of being away from home? what’s your favorite spot on campus? What’s the best thing that happened this week? Then pay attention to the answer but don’t panic if they only have one word answers or nothing at all…
- Being vulnerable with your student if you feel they might be struggling, talk about something real in your own life that you faced that made you feel uncertain or insecure and what you did to change it. Being honest and real about the everyday challenges we all face and how we can overcome them, gives all of us a greater sense that we are not alone.
- Allowing for space and mistakes seems so counter to our instincts as parents but confidence and self-esteem come from each of us learning to find our way, taking risks and following our own rhythm through the world. Be patient and reassuring that you know they will find their tribe, their path and that life flows from that discovery.
- Maintaining curiosity is essential for connection, ask your student what you can do to help them and let them tell you what they need. So often we get in the ‘fix it’ mode but staying calm and curious can help your student talk through what’s happening and find their own way.
- Sending an occasional package with some favorite items, with a little extra for sharing, along with a photo, hand written note or some other touch that reminds them of that loving support that home provides.
- Providing an occasional brief in person visit, that is mutually agreed upon, can give everyone the reassurance that all is well.
- Knowing the resources available on campus can help you and your student feel better equipped should a need arise. Here are some links to those resources;
Finances, registration https://www.kent.edu/onestop
Medical & mental health https://www.kent.edu/uhs
Complaint, grievance or appeal https://www.kent.edu/studentaffairs/student-ombuds
Crisis intervention https://www.kent.edu/stepupspeakout
Change isn’t always easy but it does provide opportunity for growth, which is true for our students as it is for us.
Kent State of Wellness Director
‘and mother of a KSU alum ’18 and a KSU student”