Last year, my wife and I were finishing up our first year as College Student Parents.
I wrote an article about advice for parents about to take that step. It was well received, so I thought it might be helpful to revise a little after twice as much experience.
Hopefully this will help you parents and grandparents of kids taking this big step in the coming months…
- You need to move into a coaching role. If you haven’t already, you’ve got to transition from be the authority figure (Police, Judge, and Jury) for your young adult. The only influence you will soon have; is the influence you earn. You need to move into a coaching role, with an eye on the real goal of eventually being a trusted friend
- Their success or failure is up to them. You have hopefully created the opportunities for them to be successful, but it’s up to them on what they do with it. They also need to understand this reality. (you aren’t calling their professors or their boss to advocate for them). Let them feel the pressure (and the joy) of the importance of their stewardship
- This is what’s supposed to happen. Them moving on to the next stage of life (college, trade school or career is a good thing). You don’t want the alternative plan of them living on your coach playing video games for life to be the plan
- Your home will never be the same again. And that’s ok. But you do need to realize this. The dynamics will shift. Pretty sure my mom is much happier when I come over now with my amazing wife and super fun grandkids than she ever was dealing with 17-year-old Todd. None the less, soak up this summer!
- Disengage on Rules and Curfews now. If they are moving out in 3 months and going to be making all these decisions soon without the benefit of being around people who love them as much as you, it’s better to let them “practice” this freedom now. They will be better equipped to handle it come the fall. (this doesn’t mean you don’t talk about the choices and the way they affect others in the home)
- Go visit as much as you can. Crystal and I have loved going down to A&M several times this year and are already planning next years visits. (the highway goes both ways)
- Talk about more than career goals. In my experience we talk a lot to our kids about “what they want to be” when they grow up (aka what profession. But very little about “who do you want to be with”. I personally see folks who choose the right spouse to be way better off that folks who choose the right career path.
- Schedule a call routine. The first semester you’re both getting used to the new rhythms. Stay intentional about connection.
- Find a healthy outlet for your worries. You can’t let fears or anxieties add to this already emotional season. Take up your worries in prayer, don’t just pray to avoid the bad stuff, pray that they will also live into and experience all the good stuff! You also need community. My wife had a group of moms waiting to hug her after that first drop off, it was so great!
- This is usually different for moms than dads. Guys, have feelings about this too, but you gotta give mom priority.
Good luck parents, you got this. Email me, [email protected], if you want my list for the students!
By Todd Baughman