Invest Time in Your Parents Now

  • Interact with your parents: take time to create new memories with your parents before leaving for college or engage in family traditions as often as you can with the time you have
  • Incorporate your parents: recognize the parts of your relationship with your parents that are invaluable and make sure to cultivate them both before you leave and while you are away
  • Involve your parents: show them your door room, introduce them to your new friends, share with them your course schedule

Manage Expectations

Remember that the expectations you share within your family might look very different than the expectations others have with their families. Cultural, familial, relational, and religious factors might impact how these expectations are created.

  • Decide how often you will talk, email, text, Skype, Face Time, Facebook update, Tweet, visit, etc. with your parents before you leave home or soon after.
  • Discuss access to grades (Determine if you will you allow your parents to access your grades online, share with them between semesters, or otherwise share your progress with your parents.)
  • Financial responsibility (Figure out a budget and who is paying for what expenses between you and your parents.)
  • Study time versus social time (Get on the same page about your parents' expectations and yours. Remember that it's important to find balance!)
  • Personal management (College isn't just about making good grades. It is important to talk about healthy eating, managing stress effectively, maintaining good mental and emotional health, and engaging in adequate self-care.

Engage in Healthy Communication

DO:

  • Listen actively. Tune into what your parents are saying. It's nice to be heard!
  • Be trustworthy. Do your best to be as open as you can with your parent, even if you may be saying something they do not want to hear. Honesty produces the trust that you want from your parents.
  • Be respectful. Earning respect from your parents happens when you're able to create a respectful relationship with them. Remember that your parent is trying to begin seeing you as an adult, so navigate this new type of relationship with regard for yourself as well as your parent.
  • Be clear. Be assertive with your needs, requests, and feedback.

DON'T:

  • Be judgmental. You and your parents may not see eye to eye on everything, but try to listen to the perspectives that they offer.
  • Be impatient. So they are saying that thing again that you have heard all of your life. Try and remember that it comes from a place of care or at least from a place of habit. Be patient with your parents. It is difficult to try to care for you from afar.
  • Dwell on the negative. Try to engage with your parents as if it is the first time every time. Cultivating a "new normal" in your relationship might take some time, effort, and compassion for when they (or you) get things wrong.
  • Be silent. As you begin to identify as more independent and as the adult child that you are becoming, take time to voice when you have a different perspective on things from your parents. This can be done in a respectful and healthy way.

You are not the only one learning and growing. Whether or not you are the first in your family to go to college or the last, your family will change as a result of you leaving. This will prompt the entire family to have to adjust to a "new normal" that will take time to transition into. Empathy, compassion, and patience will be great partners during this time!