10 Tips for Parents of College Kids

Do you have college-aged kids but need some help on being a balanced parent? If so, the following article provides you with tips on how to provide them with the proper amount of support and guidance without turning into that helicopter parent that calls their child’s professor to advocate for them.

Don’t pick your kid’s classes. Picking your own classes is a right of passage that teaches your child responsibility. It also allows them, to a certain extent, to follow their passion and interests.

Don’t GPS your kid. Don’t be that detective parent who secretly or overtly installs a GPS device on their kids’ laptops, cars, etc. This is not parenting; it is stalking. If you want your child to grow up to be a responsible adult, allow them to make mistakes, and trust that the parenting that you have done so far was more than enough.

Support them while they are developing their passion and finding themselves. Allow them to discover new passions on their own and support them while they are pursuing them. You don’t have to understand their sudden fascination with fencing or meditation, but you must support them.

Don’t become the editor for all of your kid’s work. Your child spent 13 years in K-12, and during this time, I hope that they gradually were taught and learned spelling and grammar. They are more than capable of writing their own work and self-editing. If they need someone to help edit their work, there are campus resources that can help them. This teaches them to seek out resources on their own instead of always depending on their parents. Also, editing their work is dangerous because it often turns into parents doing their child’s work.

Encourage your kid to discuss issues with their professors. Your child will have issues with their professors and will need to advocate for themselves from time to time. Maybe they missed an exam and need to retake it or failed to turn in a paper. If there were extenuating circumstances, they need to be able to explain them to their professors. No, “the dog ate my homework” or “grandmother died (for the 3rd time this semester)” won’t work.

Refrain from panicking. Failure and mistakes are a right of passage for adults. Your child may fail classes or be placed on academic probation, but you can’t panic because they will too. Calm down, and help your child develop a plan to overcome this temporary setback and thrive. Some of my biggest successes in college came after setbacks and failures, and I learned invaluable lessons from the experiences and became a pretty decent problem solver and critical thinker.

Don’t call an administrator or professor on your kid’s behalf. Nothing says helicopter parents like calling your child’s professor to advocate for them. Your child is not a helpless kid anymore, they are a young adult, and young adults must fight their own battles. If you want to offer your children advice, that’s cool, but let them be the ones to discuss issues with their professors.

Support them during the last month of the semester. Remember that the end of the semester is a busy time for college students. They will spend this last month cramming, finishing last-minute papers and projects, etc. You can support them by maintaining a quiet environment that is conducive to learning. By doing this, you can lessen their burden and help them to thrive academically.

Talk to them about the dangers of partying, drinking, and substance abuse. Unfortunately, being smart and doing well in their classes is not all students need to graduate. They have to understand the dangers of drugs and alcohol and how using these substances can have dire consequences on their futures. Make sure your kids understand this.

Help your kids find the appropriate campus resources. From time to time, your kids will need help and support that you can not provide. In these cases, you can help them seek out the appropriate campus resources. For instance, if your child struggles in math classes, you can help them find out what area of university handles tutoring. If your child is being harassed by a student or employee, you can help them identify where to file a complaint or report the harassment. If the university does nothing about it, you can help your child find the right lawyer.

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