7 Ways to Support Your Children in College

What is the best way to support your college students when they head off to college?

I began exploring this question in my last post: Staying in Touch With College Students

Today I’m going to share some examples of what parents can do for their children besides writing those big tuition checks.  These ideas come from the authors of The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting them Grow Up.

In this age of instant communications, here are some of the authors’ tips for parents:

1. Let students initiate the calls.

Or at least most of them. In their research, the authors concluded that students, who reported that their parents were making most of the calls, were the least happy.

2. Send care packages.

Don’t let phone calls and emails replace the traditional way that parents used to connect — through letters and care packages. One of the rare calls that we got from our son Ben, a college freshman, during his first month of school was to request a care package of salt water taffy, blow pops, ping pong balls and dried chili mangos.

3. Include dads.

Research has suggested that many students, and especially daughters, would like more contact with their fathers. Since moms appear to get more of the calls, they should be the ones trying to get dads to connect more.

4. Skip Facebook.

Parents should resist the urge to initiate Facebook friend requests with their children. For parents who have access to their college students’ Facebook, it can be awfully tempting to snoop. I know this from firsthand experience.

5. Respond appropriately to venting.

Just because your child is venting about a roommate from hell, a lousy professor or crummy dorm food doesn’t mean you have to get riled up too. And don’t assume that you need to jump in with solutions. It’s hard for a student to become an adult if you are always providing the answers.

6. Be a great listener.

Be in the moment. Give your child space to think out loud and come up with his or her own solutions to problems.

7. Don’t be a nag.

I admit I was guilty of being a nag when my son was in high school. I’d pestered him about reading, starting his college applications and studying for the SAT. I’m proud to report, however, that since he left for college in August, I haven’t nagged him at all. I know he appreciates it and I feel much better about our relationship.

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