We know that as a parent you are concerned about your son and daughter, especially as he or she makes the transition into college and continues through his/her time as a student at NMSU. It’s natural to wonder what is happening with your son or daughter. Here are some helpful tips to maintaining a healthy and positive relationship with your child as he/she is at college.
Helpful Tips for Parents
We encourage you to talk with your child about how he/she is doing academically and about other aspects of his/her life. It may be helpful for both you and your child to talk about how often checking in would be helpful to make sure you are both on the same page; this will minimize either party feeling neglected or pestered. As you already know, it can sometimes be difficult for your child to share certain parts of his/her life. Creating an open, welcoming, and supportive space, will increase the likelihood of your college student sharing more about what’s going on in his/her life, including any struggles he/she is having with which you could lend an ear.
Have Realistic Expectations
College is a transition for everyone, so some growing pains are expected. Your child, like many other students, will likely need time to transition into the college student role. Your son/daughter’s transition may result in growing pains between you and him/her, too, since your college student will be taking more steps to becoming an adult. Thinking back to your own development into adulthood may help reassure you that the growing pains will not last forever! Although the student role will not be new to either of you, being a college student is different than being a high school student. College is a new and challenging environment, so we encourage patience as he/she finds his/her way.
An aspect of college that many parents have inquired about is how to create realistic expectations about your child’s time commitment in college. More is required to be successful in college than was required in previous schooling. For instance, a course load of 12 hours does not mean your child is free after those 12 hours of class. The 12 hours simply account for the amount of time the student is present in class. To earn passing grades, your college student will need to devote several more hours outside of those 12 hours to reading texts and completing assignments. One formula used is that students need to devote 10 hours outside of class for every 3-hour credit class taken.
Adapt to the Transition
While you are still your son/daughter’s parent, your child is taking an important step in his/her own life. This does not mean that your son/daughter will not be connected to you but rather that he/she is growing in his/her own independence and needs your support, which at this time in your child’s life may look like allowing more room for your son/daughter to make some of his/her own decisions. We encourage you to recall your own journey into adulthood to be reminded of how we all sometimes need a little space to start becoming our own person and then to keep that in mind when thinking of ways to help your college student become the successful adult you know he/she can and will be. Some parents have shared that it is helpful to check in with themselves about how much they are helping their child mature into an adult versus keeping him/her positioned in the “child” role.
While all students need time to settle into college, as a parent you may notice certain signs that indicate your son/daughter could benefit from the services offered at our Counseling Center. Some signs to keep an eye out for are: mood fluctuation more than usual, seeming more down more often, usual coping strategies not helping the way they used to, and significant changes in behavior. If you notice these signs, we encourage you to check in with your son/daughter. And if your child seems like he/she could benefit from additional support, you can contact the Counseling Center, which you can learn more about below and from checking out our Frequently Asked Questions.
An Important Resource for Your Son/Daughter—the Counseling Center
We’ve heard that many parents are unfamiliar with the services offered at the Counseling Center, so we want to spread the word about this great resource. We offer individual (one-on-one) counseling, group counseling, couples counseling, outreach, and consultation. These services are provided free of charge to all main campus NMSU students.