Many parents struggle with the challenge of giving a child the freedom to make decisions independently, while also continuing to provide support and guidance for the many issues that your child will face at college. When the issues move beyond the typical roommate conflicts and academic challenges, the distinction between interference and support may be difficult to discern. The following information offers steps to help you maintain an active and healthy relationship with your child and provide support, even from a distance.
Be Aware of the Stressors Your Child Will Face
Research indicates that most parents believe that their child's primary stressors will be the difficulty of classes and poor time management, whereas college students identify a lack of sleep, bouts of anxiety and depression, relationship issues, and the constantly changing landscapes of technology and social medial as their major stressors.
Model Strong Communication Skills
Before college, your primary goal in communicating with your child was to transfer information... to teach, direct, advise, etc. During college and after, your primary goal is to strengthen and maintain your connection to your child.
Listen, Rather Than React
When your child presents you with information that is unexpected, uncomfortable, or concerning, your tendency might be to immediately respond with your reactions and opinions rather than really listening to what they are saying. To really listen, it is important to focus on their verbal and non-verbal messages, ask questions to make sure that you understand, and then respond. It's okay to disagree, but important to respect their perspective and concerns.
Support & Guide, Rather Than Direct
Most parents after many years of parenting have perfected the ability to advocate for and intervene on behalf of their children. Now, when your child is struggling, you want to respond with empathy and offer support. Rather than telling them what to do or doing it for them, you want to ask them what they have done to problem-solve, and ask questions to help them think about and decide what else they can do to help themselves. Communicate confidence in their ability to manage their concern, knowing that there are faculty and staff members at Babson who can offer assistance to your child.
Warning Signs of More Serious Distress
At times, if your child's concerns persist or are interfering in their ability to be successful at Babson, it may be appropriate to intervene. If you are concerned that your child may be clinically depressed, that their anxiety is not manageable, that they are isolating and avoiding social contact, or that they may be considering suicide, reach out on their behalf. Contact Counseling and Psychological Services
or Wellness & Prevention Services
to discuss your concerns and to help you determine appropriate next steps.