Welcome Parents and Guardians!
Dropping your college student off can be both exciting and
difficult for the whole family. The first few months can be challenging
as students move into adulthood, and parents begin to transition from
the role of "director" into the role of "listener".
Here are some strategies you may find helpful:
Ask open-ended questions. Remember
the goal is to keep communication open, not to close it. Try
not to sound as if you are preaching. When you are trying to
make a point, use the words "I would rather that
Be open and honest about your
values and expectations on sensitive subjects such as alcohol, drugs,
and sex. State your views without coming across as
Remember that listening is part
communicating. Being a good sounding board is an important
part of the
Expect to disagree on some key
issues. Keep in mind that your student is struggling for
independence and autonomy-not
Take some extra time to
support and encouragement. Positive feedback is especially
important for your child at this
Discuss the connections between alcohol,
drugs, and sexual assault. Emphasize that in order to make
good judgments, a person needs to be in control. If your
child goes to a party with friends, encourage him or her to leave with
those same friends. Suggest that transportation arrangements
be planned in
Stress to your student that
toxic and excessive consumption can fatally poison. This is
not a scare tactic. The fact is that students die every year
from alcohol poisoning. Discourage dangerous binge drinking
and participation in drinking games. Parents should ask their
students to also have the courage to intervene when they see someone
putting their life at risk through participation in dangerous
Don't overreact to those first
telephone calls! Listen carefully, and try to determine how
best to address your child's need at the moment. Don't
Don't be surprised if your son
daughter expresses strong emotions one day, and then these feelings
disappear the next day. It is not unusual to receive a call
that "nothing is going right" or "I want to come home"-and then the
next day, "all is well".
Brainstorm options and possible
action with your student as problems arise. Generating
choices with your child conveys that you care and also puts the
responsibility on him or her for follow-up.
Encourage your child to work
problems with their roommates as they arise. A series of
misunderstandings may erupt into a major confrontation if tensions are
allowed to build.
It is important to remember that
need to fight their own battles. Situations can become more
complicated when parents get involved in roommate problems.
Remember that times change! Be
careful about giving advice based on your own college
experience. What worked for you some years ago may not be
effective for your son or daughter.
Place the responsibility for
with resources at the first sign of academic trouble on your
student. Students should reach out to campus support services
such as tutorials, advisers, and deans.
Ask questions about how your
spending free time and with whom he or she is spending it.
The way your child spends time can give clues as to whether he or she
is engaging in risky activities.
Remember that it is your student who
needs to take responsibility for managing his or her time.
Attempting to organize your child's time can often complicate
matters. However, as a parent, you can provide some helpful
Even if your child has made some
decisions, try not to place blame directly on him or her.
Using "I" statements rather than "you" statements allows you to express
how you feel without sounding accusatory.
Work on controlling your emotions. Feelings
of anger and disappointment will come through even on the
Choosing a major is a process
time. It may be difficult not to step in and choose a major
for your child. Encourage your students to explore academic
programs, but do not project your own views into the process.
Remember that a student's choice of a major is based on his or her
abilities and interests, not yours.
Parents should be aware when
are available.Information can be found on the MMC
website. Keep in mind that MMC honors FERPA law, and
therefore you will not receive notification of your child's grades,
judicial records, etc.
When you discuss any changes,
that your student "owns" the plan. Your role is to share your
expectations and provide support, not to assume responsibility for
decisions and follow-through. That is up to your college
If this is your second (or third) child
going off to college, remember and respect the differences of each of
your children as you apply these strategies.
Adapted from: MacKay, J.K., Ingram, W.J. Let the Journey
Begin: A Parent's Monthly Guide to the College Experience.
Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002.
There are a variety of helpful books available to assist you with the transition, as well as your student's, as they begin their college life.
- The Parents' Survival Guide to Freshman Year
of College (Borden, Burlinson and Kearns)
- Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding
the College Years (Coburn & Treeger)
- When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parents'
Survival Guide (Barkin)
- Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money:
The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years
(Johnson & Schelhas-Miller)
- You're On Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need
Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years (Savage)