Opening Advice to Parents

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but in general, dropping off a child and returning home without them is a big change/step in life.  My 4th child will be going off to college next week, so I do understand what it can be like for parents.  (I still have one to go, so I’m not an empty nester yet.) 

Make a plan that to make this a positive experience for both you and your child.  Help your son or daughter get their belongings into the room and then plan your schedule and graceful exit around the schedule of activities that are set up to continue the orientation process.  Even if you don’t want the moment to come when you will part company, it has to happen.  It is important to let your son or daughter get involved in their new community so that they are meeting the other students and making new friends.  Let them start that process without making them choose between more time with you v. time getting to know other students.

I know that many of you have been shopping and making room decorating plans all summer.  Please make sure that your plans don’t involve running over the roommate and their family.  The decisions about the set up of the room have to be negotiated between the students, not between the parents. 

Negotiate a communication plan that your son or daughter can agree to.  Students lives get busy quickly and many forget that you are anxious for some reassurance that they are doing well.  At this point in time, I would say to learn to text if you haven’t already.  Many students don’t answer phone calls and don’t really listen to voicemail messages.  Texting is something that they can do quickly and simply without taking a time out from what they are involved in.  I hope that they will however, remember the need to call you and talk also.  It can be tough on all of us, but try not to make it a control mechanism that they will resent.  The ultimate goal is to get them to freely communicate with you.  You will have to start learning how to communicate with them as an adult, or differently than you might have when they were in high school, so that they will look forward to having conversations with you.

We hope that you are very proud of who your children are.  You’ve evidently done a great job raising them.  The student body here is a great group for them to be a member of.  Encourage them to be outgoing and actively look for opportunities to be involved.  There are over 700 student organizations that are looking for additional members.  If they can also find friends in their hall or suite that enjoy the same activities as they do, that will be another good anchor point for their life here.

One of the primary tasks that all students need to learn is to learn to speak for themselves and address issues.  Living in any community and/or with a roommate inevitably involves conflict of some kind.  Relationships can’t develop unless the parties involved are willing to honestly share their feelings and let others know when they are uncomforable.  All roommate conflicts have 2 sides.  In many cases, where parents choose to get involved, it seems that the son or daughter has not said a word or done anything to let the roommate know that there is an issue.  In almost all cases, if a student is willing to let someone know that they are uncomforable, the other person will respond positively.  Please encourage them to start handling those relationship issues themselves.  Their Resident Assistant is always available to them as a resource and support to help them.

We are looking forward to seeing you all again next week.

John



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