Parenting Challenges When Your Child Goes to College

Every stage of parenting comes with unique challenges. Just as you get the hang of the stage your child is in, they enter a new stage and you have to hit an all new learning curve. That cycle probably never stops, but I’ll let you know if it ever does. You would think that once your child leaves the home, your parenting days are mostly over. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth.

Your task as a parent is so much different than the nights when you would rock them to sleep, softly singing a lullaby and stroking their milk filled cheeks, but your days of parenting will never be over. This isn’t something to be discouraged by, but it’s a beautiful blessing to be able to have a special connection with this child for the rest of your life. As they leave the house and enter college, there is an entire collection of parenting challenges you’ll have to face.

The fear of not being there
One of the biggest fears for a parent as their child is leaving the nest, is that they will no longer be
able to be physically there for their child when they need support. This is a transition that will be tough
for both you and your child. Give yourself a bit of a break, and allow yourself to be sad that the
previous stage of life is over, but also feel excitement for all of the things that your child will embark
upon! Having a positive attitude will rub off on your child, which will be especially helpful if you have a
child that has separation issues and is nervous and uncomfortable with the idea of leaving home and
living away from you.

Self-image issues
Many children face self-image and confidence issues sometime in their adolescence, and may experience a similar crisis when they are in college. It can
come from a mix of things, often stemmed from the way that imagine that their peers may potentially
view them. Whether this is because of someone they are interested in dating, friends who have
different body types than them, or just lingering confidence issues from when they were younger. The
best thing you can do with this, is to try to be encouraging and affirmational. Don’t comment on the
size of their body, even if it is a “positive” comment. Their attractiveness and worth is not tied to the
size of their pants.

Their mental health
Mental illness among college students is so incredibly high, so make sure that you are constantly
checking in with your child. They often will keep their struggles to themselves, and even though they
may not disclose all of their feelings to you, you should try to be a loving support system to them
through it all. The goal is to let them know that you will love and accept them no matter what happens,
even before they are struggling. Building that trust is important for their mental health, and also for
any hope you may have of them confiding in you.

The impending doom of student loan debt
Student debt is overwhelming for most Americans. The cost of going to college is outrageously high, and most people will be
paying off these loans and debts until the day that they die. Before they leave for school, while they
are still in high school, you should encourage them to get a job and save the majority of their money
to put towards college and their adult life. Help them with their FAFSA application, and try to help
them find affordable ways to live without the need for excessive student loans.

Substance abuse
This is a touchy subject, but it is almost inevitable that your child will be faced with the decision of
whether or not to partake in illegal or innebriating substances while they are in college. And unfortunately, you cannot control this. This is an issue where
preventative measures are going to be the most effective. Teaching your child the potential scary e
ffects of substance abuse, rather than hiding it from them, is the best way to prepare them to make
educated decisions when faced with that sort of thing.

At the end of the day, when your child is in college, you simply cannot be there for every moment, and
there are so many things that you won’t be able to prevent or anticipate. Love them and support them
and try to be there for them when they need you. Check in on them on a regular basis. Send them
home-baked cookies with a Little Caesars gift card. They still need your support, even though they
aren’t close by.

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