Congratulations on being an integral part of creating and raising a productive member of society! Your family has made it through primary and high school, and now, you have given your child wings as they make their way through college…on their own. While it all sounds textbook perfect, the fact remains that life doesn’t happen like that. Our college aged children are primed and ready to “adult”, but that may not necessarily mean that they’ve got all of the answers yet. They still need to navigate their adult journey with a little bit of guidance and support from their parents.
To be honest, often college students will need help with things their parents find super simple. For some situations, it could be something as basic as not including one tiny piece of information on a form, and now that “thing” that the college student was attempting to make happen doesn’t. As older adults, it’s natural to take for granted the fact that it has taken years and years of adulting to produce the wise folks that look back at us in the mirror. Try to keep the “kid to adult” process in perspective.
So, how can you help your student navigate their adulting dilemmas without trying to run his or her life? It’s easier than you think! Here are some ways that you can handle this without causing angst or creating power struggles between you and your college aged student:
Speak to your college student like an adult. It might be more natural for you to always try to “instruct” him or her when you are having a conversation, but try to resist doing that. Talk to your adult child as you would a co-worker when it comes to dealing with process oriented issues. Try not to talk down or be condescending, otherwise, you’ll lose him or her, and they won’t get the help they need from you.
Try to understand the dilemma and help them to focus on getting through it versus trying to just blast your student for what they did wrong. You’ll need to address that, but try not to make that the crux of the conversation. Getting a positive end result is much more important.
Ask your adult child if they want your help. They are not babies, but asking for help from their parents may be hard to do for a college student. For some, they may feel it sends a message that they’re not capable. By you asking them if they need your assistance, you are there, more so for support. tAnd they know that you have their best interest at heart.
Have confidence in them. Don’t look at them needing you as a “failure” or “weakness”. Look at it exactly as it is, a young person with minimal experience trying to figure out life’s nuances, processes, and potential pitfalls. Let them know that you believe in them and their ability to handle the situation, but that you’re there for support and encouragement if they need you.
Let them make their own decisions so they can be accountable for those decisions. If you make all of the decisions for them and work out all of the details, without their input, then, the accountability is yours. It shouldn’t be. This is another adult that you are dealing with. They need to know that while you’re there to “help”, they’re responsible for themselves.
Remember, your college aged adult was just a middle school child less than 8 years ago. Try not to treat them like they know everything, because despite the fact that they’re ‘adulting’ truth is….they still have a lot of growing up to do!