Parenthood may be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. There is something about being a somewhat-omniscient witness as your child navigates the world. From their first steps to your first goodbye as you drop them off at college, there is a lot to cherish and a lot to dread. There are a few milestones that are particularly difficult to stomach…the first time your teenager drives away on their own in the family car, and maybe the moment you kick them out of the nest and drive away from their college without them.
But there’s a reason kids grow up and move away. And parents should do everything they can to help them be successful. This may become tricky in the transition from being a high school parent to becoming a college parent. From kindergarten to twelfth grade, parents are their children’s advocates. Parents are responsible for supervising homework, communicating with the teachers and school, and instilling desirable character traits and work habits. As students transition to college, parents should realign themselves to allow their children to take the central role.
Before starting college, students should have the opportunity to learn multiple life skills. This is often called “adulting,” and a student’s mastery of these skills may determine their college success. Sociologist Andrea Malkin Brenner Ph.D. is a college transition educator and author of Shattering the Teacup Label: Honing Adulting Competencies and Building Resilience. Her article elaborates on the life skills and adult behaviors that will ease the transition to independence.
There are still several months before the fall semester begins. With a little intention, parents can develop students’ life skills now by modeling the skills and behaviors they will need when they are living under a different roof. Family discussions of scenarios one might encounter on campus could include time management, self-care skills, and asking for help when it’s needed. Take a look at Clarke University’s list of Essential Skills for College Students – Clarke University for further guidance.
First-year college students will make mistakes. Talking ahead of time about what to do when things go wrong can help soften the blow, as well as bolster confidence when students successfully navigate challenges. Every step they take on their own is one toward independence and success…and a good return on investment for college parents.