When my son left home for college, I resolved not to be That Helicopter Mom. You know, the one who texts multiple times daily, calls every afternoon, and drives down every weekend to visit her college student. After we returned from dropping him off and I finally managed to pick my quivering, weepy self up from the kitchen floor, I resolved not to call him. That resolution lasted about 13 hours.
I wasn’t sure what my new mom role should look like. It was time to let go, yet our son would also need encouragement and support from his parents while he tried out his new, independent wings.
How could I encourage my son, yet give him space?
During the college years, we enter a new phase in parenting. As we continue preparing our kids for the responsibilities of adulthood, we still need to remember this wisdom from Scripture: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Yet at the same time, the way we train our children changes as we release them to gradual independence.
Our role of cheering on our kids will never change, but now instead of caretakers, we become coaches, offering support and encouragement from afar as they grow their adulting skills.
How can we encourage and build up our new college student?
1. Take an Interest in Their Lives
The first year of college, our kids encounter many new experiences and may be more excited now than they ever will be again to tell us about them. Let’s take advantage of this stage to ask about their new friends, their studies, favorite teachers, or extra-curricular activities. Then let’s listen. Our relationship and involvement in our young adult children’s lives will change, but let’s keep learning about their interests.
2. Give Your Child Space
When your child can’t talk or doesn’t have time to come home for the weekend, don’t take it personally! It’s probably a good sign; she’s working on growing her own independent interests and responsibilities, right where she is.