If Your Son or Daughter is the first member of your family to attend college….
Lawrence University invests much time and energy in helping our students make the complicated transition to college life and beyond. We also understand that you are making an important transition as well. A number of departments on campus (including Student Affairs, Residence Life, Counseling Services and Center for Academic Success) can help to answer your questions. Here, we’d like to offer some perspective on a very broad question: “How can I best support my child?”
You may notice that your son or daughter has become more independent over the last few years. Most students, while at Lawrence University, continue to change through interactions with new people and the new tasks and challenges they face. College is usually a time when young adults separate from their families, form a sense of self-identity, clarify their moral and ethical beliefs, establish intimate relationships, and choose a career goal. While these achievements are positive, these changes may generate feelings of dislocation and loss for both parents and students.
So, how can you as a parent help with these changes?
While your son or daughter is facing homesickness and residence hall living, you are managing the challenges of home-away-from-home parenting. Seasoned college parents suggest some of the following strategies:
- Plan together. He will need help in understanding how to budget, the ins and outs of health and auto insurance, campus technology and communication options, and what to pack. This is a good opportunity to plan with him for the coming year and to avoid miscommunications about finances and other important choices.
- Trust her. Each student will face problems and make mistakes, and will need your assurance to be the capable, confident person you raised.
- Be a good listener. He will want to test new ideas and new identities with you. While you may not always agree, it is important that you listen and support his growth.
- Stay in contact. She will need reassurance of your love and interest, but may not need it every day. On the other hand, some students will want to maintain almost daily contact. Make your conversations count, remembering to be a supportive listener.
- Maintain serenity. Occasionally, college students have difficulty putting problems into perspective. When he calls home to say, “I don’t have any friends” or “I don’t belong here,” parents have an opportunity to help their sons or daughters develop problem-solving skills critical to healthy development. Work to identify specific issues and potential solutions, and encourage a search for resources on campus.