As Parents Drop Kids Off for Their Freshman Year at College, An Expert Offers Tips

SATURDAY, Aug. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Tears may flow when parents drop their teen off at college. Watching kids leave the nest can tug at the heart and make parents a little anxious about what's to come.

That makes sense, but it’s natural that young adults will become more independent and develop autonomy from their parents and grandparents. So, how can parents rise to the occasion?

An expert from Virginia Tech offers some tips for parents and guardians who are making this big life transition.

Parents should be honest with themselves and their young adults about the joy, sadness, and other emotions that happen with the move to college, said Jenene Case Pease, a clinical assistant professor in the department of human development and family science at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

“Be prepared to adjust your expectations regarding communication and time spent together. Learn to recognize how and when your student is most open to communicate,” Case Pease said in a university news release.

It’s also important to respect boundaries set by the student. It’s likely their priorities will naturally shift as their responsibilities increase.

Some parents may be concerned about their young adult's social and academic pursuits, but Case Pease recommends a more watchful waiting and positive approach.

Show genuine enthusiasm in the student’s new perspectives and interests, she advised.

In addition:

  • Don't judge their proposed area of study. Be curious about the field they choose.

  • Give young adults the space they need to consider what's working or not, without imposing your own solutions.

  • Don't have an "I know you better than you know yourself" attitude.

“This transition is a wonderful time for parents to model the type of respectful communication that they would like their child to reciprocate,” Case Pease said. “Trust that they (as parents) have provided their launching young adult with adequate skills to manage the demands of college life.”

More information

The Child Mind Institute has tips on raising confident, independent children.

SOURCE: Virginia Tech, news release, Aug. 18, 2023

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