How to Parent Your College Student

[NYPT Summer 2018}

By Richard Gakshteyn, Youth Member

It’s that time of year when some parents start sending their children off to college, and many parents react differently in how they treat their kids when they go away. For example, some parents are helicopter parents, others are relaxed. I believe this is related to their level of trust in their kids. I have spoken to many of my old classmates and parents, including my own, about trust and partying in college. The majority of them say their parents approve because they trust them to do what’s right. I believe parents should be aware of their children partying while they are away at college, whether they want their child to be partying or not, they should be able to trust their child to do what is right.

With this being said, many students still believe their parents don’t trust them when they go away to college. This is mainly because some parents are very strict and want to know where their children are every second of the day. This is called helicopter parenting. I believe this form of parenting ruins college students. A study conducted by Jill C. Bradley-Geist and Julie B. Olson-Buchanan, both management professors, shows us how over-parenting can ruin a child’s abilities to deal with the workplace. Both Bradley-Geist and Olson-Buchanan surveyed more than 450 undergraduate students who were asked to “rate their level of self-efficacy, the frequency of parental involvement, how involved parents were in their daily lives and their response to certain workplace scenarios.” The study showed that college students with “helicopter parents” had a hard time believing in their ability to accomplish their goals. They were more dependent on others, had bad coping strategies and didn’t acquire soft skills, such as responsibility and conscientiousness, throughout college.

Another part of sending your children away to college is learning how to cope with saying goodbye and being a good college parent. Like I previously said, I believe helicopter parenting is horrible for any college student. It denies students the ability to be independent. This emotional roller coaster is about to begin, as students will start to move to their college campuses in a few weeks. The excitement and joy about opportunities awaiting your child are mixed with the waves of nostalgia and a sense of loss. I believe for a child to really succeed and for a parent to feel better about their child going away, it is imperative for the parent to just let go. College is part of a student’s search for maturity and self‐identity. Parents or guardians need to change their style of parenting with their college‐age students. Although students still need love and support, the parental figures in their lives need to become less involved. College students will still have their problems while at school. Perhaps your child will have a problem with a roommate, but don’t call the college president to help with the situation. I believe a parent should “move like your feet are stuck in molasses.” What I mean is a parent should express support, but give your children time to solve their own problems. It will benefit them for the future. There are resources that exist in college to help cope with various situations, and there are many safety nets, including resident advisers trained to identify and handle just about any problem you can imagine. So as the summer comes to an end, if you have a college student going away to college, trust that you have taught them to do the right thing, and let them go to experience some of the best days of their life!