Remember that your son or daughter's transition to
college is a transition for you as well.
The transition to college can be a
stressful experience for parents, especially if your son or daughter
hasn't lived away from home before. During this important time of
transition for the family, many parents put their own feelings and
reactions "on hold" while helping their child prepare for university
life. However, attending to your own emotional needs will go a long way
toward helping everyone feel comfortable with the challenges that
Recognize that feelings of ambivalence, anxiety,
and excitement about your child's leaving home are normal.
You may feel a variety of emotions as
your son or daughter prepares to leave for home for the first time.
While ambivalence and anxiety are common during this period of
transition, it is also normal to look forward to the relative peace and
quiet of having your active older adolescent out of the house. You may
be excited to have the place to yourself, or to have more time to spend
with your spouse and/or younger children.
Remember that coming to the college is a
tremendously important developmental step toward full adulthood.
It represents the culmination of 18 years or
so of learning, much of which has been geared toward assuming a
productive place in the world. This is the time when your hard work as a
parent will show itself as your son or daughter begins to make
independent choices. Many parents find that it helps to focus on the
fact that providing their son or daughter with this opportunity is a
priceless gift. Be proud of yourself!
What Can I Do to Help My Child from a Distance?
Of course, you are still a parent to
your son or daughter, and s/he still needs your support and guidance
during the college years. Here are some ways you can express your caring
and enhance his or her experience at Brockport.
Stay in touch.
Even though your son or daughter is
experimenting with independent choices, s/he still needs to know that
you're there and available to discuss both normal events and difficult
issues. Make arrangements to write, email, or call on a regular basis.
It may be helpful to have a conversation about how often s/he would like
you to check-in.
Allow your son or daughter to set the agenda for
some of your conversations.
If he or she needs help or support,
the subject is more likely to come up if you aren't asking pointedly
about what time he or she came in last night!
Be realistic about financial matters.
Students should come to school with a
fairly detailed plan about who will pay for tuition, fees, books, and
room and board, and what the family's expectations are about spending
money. Being specific at the outset may help avoid misunderstandings
later. Don't forget about the costs of social activities, which are an
important part of the college experience.
Be realistic about academic achievement and
Brockport attracts bright students
from a geographically diverse area, and not every student who excelled
academically in high school will be a straight-A student at Brockport.
Developing or refining the capacity to work independently and
consistently, and to demonstrate mastery, can be as important as grades,
as long as the student meets the basic academic requirements set out by
the college. Again, these are choices that each individual student
makes, though certainly it is appropriate to help your child set his or
her own long-term goals.
If your son or daughter has trouble at
Brockport, encourage him or her to take advantage of the resources
available to students.
For academic issues, talking with the
professor, teaching assistant or academic advisor is probably the first
step, but the Student Learning Center and Career Services
Center are also available to help. Any health concerns should be
directed to the Student Health Center. If your son or daughter could
benefit from counseling, the Counseling Center is located on campus in
Hazen Hall and can be accessed by telephone: 1-585-395-2207 (M-F,
8AM-5PM). Negotiating the social, academic, and bureaucratic mazes of
Brockport, can seem very daunting at times; but you can help your son or
daughter by reminding him or her of the many resources available here.
Allow yourself to have emotions.
There is little benefit in pretending
that you don't feel sad, guilty, relieved, apprehensive, worried, etc.
about the transition to Brockport. A healthier approach is to discuss
your feelings with your family, friends, clergy, or whoever is a source
of support for you. Talking with other parents of college-bound students
can be particularly helpful.
Make "overall wellness" a goal for yourself.
During stressful times, it helps to
get enough sleep, eat healthy meals regularly, and get adequate
exercise. Spending time doing the things you like is another step toward
wellness. If you are feeling good, you are more likely to have the
energy to be a good role model your son daughter in terms of maintaining
their overall physical and mental health.
Find a new creative outlet for yourself.
Many parents find that taking on a
new challenge is an excellent way to manage and channel their energy and
feelings. Have you ever wanted to travel? Volunteer in your community?
Assume a new project or responsibility at work? Write a book? Learn to
fly-fish? Make a quilt? Get your own bicycle and ride all over town?
Make a list of all the things you intended to do while your child was
growing up but never had the time to do. Now is your chance!
Be patient with the transition.
It is important to recognize that it
will take some time to develop the right balance between your son or
daughter's developing need for independence and their simultaneous need
for support and guidance. Every student is different in this regard and
has different needs, and these needs will almost certainly change over
time. In addition, students don't always know how much independence they
can handle or how much support they will actually need. So, be patient,
and understand that it will likely take some time for everyone to
figure this out.
Be ready for the first trip home.
It is important to remember that your
kids have been making their own decisions for several weeks and are not
accustomed to checking in with mom and dad. It is not unusual for
parents and students to have difficulties with the transition back home.
At this point, you may be ready to pack the student back to school or
find yourself a nice hotel room, resist the urge! Possible solutions to
this scenario include:
- Addressing boundaries before your students arrive home.
- Develop a balance between the “the old rules” and new
expectations the students bring home. After all, they have survived
without your watchful monitoring, but you do deserve some degree of
- Remember that this is a “normal” developmental stage for both
you and your student, so try not to make it a war. Both of you will
*This information was adapted
from resources gathered from the University
of Texas Counseling Center web site.Other resources are available
there as well. …and when in doubt, call the Counseling Center at (585)
395-2207 or consult the "On Campus Links" section of our web site for a
list of relevant on campus offices. We are here to help!
Last Updated 10/26/10