If you’re a parent and your child is about to go to university, it’s natural that you’ll want to do everything possible to help them become successful. You want them to be at an excellent and safe university, where they can learn and grow. You want them to have the best possible experience, so they’ll do well by staying happy and healthy. It’s also natural that you’ll have some fears about their transition into adulthood.
What does this mean for you? How can you support your child? How can you help them succeed?
For parents who are fortunate enough to provide financial support, aside from what’s available through scholarships or bursaries, the challenge is finding the balance between supporting your child financially vs. making them learn how to become independent. On the one hand, you want to give your child every opportunity available to ensure their university years are safe and successful. On the other hand, it isn’t beneficial for them if they never learn.
1. Give them space
One of the most important things you can do is give your child some space. They need to figure out who they are and what they want out of life without feeling like their parents constantly monitor them. This doesn’t mean you should completely disappear; just let them know that you’re there for them if they need you, but give them the independence they need to grow into adults.
2. Encourage them to get involved on campus
Encouraging your child to get involved on campus is a great way to help them make friends and to stay happy and healthy. They’ll meet lots of new people, be able to make their voice heard through student government or clubs, and have fun!
3. Make sure they know that you’re there if something goes wrong or they need someone to talk to
Although letting your child grow into independent adults is important, it’s equally important that you tell them that they can seek your support at any time. If they’re feeling lonely, stressed out by the workload, overwhelmed by their course choice, or having issues with food or alcohol use, you must be there for them so that they don’t feel alone in dealing with these problems.
4. Help them set goals for after graduation
If your child has a clear idea of what they want to do after graduation, it’s much easier for them to map out their journey toward that goal. If they struggle with this, you can help by guiding them so that they know how to start looking for jobs or internships.
5. Support their choices
One of the best things you can do is trust your child enough so that they feel secure in making the right choices about their education and their future after university. This means encouraging motivation and independence instead of taking over control, especially when it comes to decisions about choosing courses or extracurricular activities on campus. It also means supporting healthy behavior like getting enough sleep, eating properly, avoiding drugs and alcohol, etc.
6. Talk to them
Make time every few weeks so that you and your child can sit down and discuss how things are going. This is an excellent way for both of you to get perspective, share concerns, and express feelings. When you check in regularly, it’s easier for kids to communicate because they know that they won’t have to spill everything out all at once.
7. Offer help if necessary
Your child will be taking on a lot of responsibilities when they go away to university: cooking meals, doing laundry, paying rent. It’s a tremendous amount of work! If help with these kinds of tasks would make life much easier for them, let them know. There’s no need for everyone in the household to suffer just because one person needs support from their family to succeed.
8. Celebrate their successes
University is a huge accomplishment, so be sure to celebrate your child’s successes along the way. Whether getting good grades, making new friends, or landing that dream job, make sure you let them know how proud you are of them.
9. Let them know you’re always available for a chat
Even though your child is now a grown-up, that doesn’t mean they don’t need someone to talk to. Make yourself available for conversations about anything and everything, and be a listening ear when they need one.
10. Enjoy these years
It goes by so quickly, but the time you spend with your child during their university years is truly priceless. Make the most of it by being supportive, encouraging, and loving.
Each family will have their own way of supporting their child who is about to go to university, but these are some general tips that may help. Remember that the most important thing is to maintain an open dialogue with your child and be supportive no matter what.