Tips for Parents

Stay in Touch: 4 Communication Tips that Work

Some parents can be the overly intrusive helicopter parent so often seen on college campuses and or they can pull away altogether. It can be difficult to know exactly how much freedom your college-bound child needs. Some college freshmen appreciate having mom and dad standing by to help, others may see their readiness as an intrusion on their new freedom. 

In the end, you know your son or daughter better than anyone, and that gives you a big advantage when deciding how, and how often, to communicate once your child is off to college. Modern technology has provided parents with a myriad of ways to communicate with their college-bound children, but finding the right balance between letting go and constant hovering can be daunting.

Email – Email can be a great way to communicate with your son or daughter without being too intrusive. Sending a quick email lets your student know you are thinking of them (without making them feel like they need to respond right away). Unless there is an urgent matter to discuss, a once or twice a week email should suffice.

Facebook – You can always friend your college-bound student on Facebook, assuming you have not done so already. The beauty of Facebook is that you can use it to communicate with not only your son or daughter but others in your circle of friends as well. Sending a single Facebook message once a week is enough to keep everyone informed, without being too intrusive. Keep in mind, however, that being a friend on Facebook is not a license to send parental advice or commentary all the time. Also, make sure you avoid discussing anything personal on Facebook, use a traditional email for such conversations.

Snail Mail – Believe it or not, snail mail is alive and well, and chances are your son or daughter would love getting the occasional letter from mom and dad.  A care package will be even more welcome, so jot down your thoughts, throw in some tasty treats from home and send your student a heartfelt letter.

Phone Calls & Texts – If your child is staying in a dorm or off-campus apartment, you can always communicate the old-fashioned way, with a phone call. You can also call your student’s cell phone or send a quick text message, just be careful about class schedules before you make your call.

Keeping Up with College

Do not be afraid to access the resources the college makes available to parents, including the class schedules, activities calendar and parent handbook. You can use these references to find the resources you need to effectively mentor your child while he or she is away at college. 

It is important to keep the lines of communication open while your child is away at college. This may be the first time your son or daughter has been away from home, and it is natural for both of you to have some difficulties adapting. Taking the time to let your child settle in, while still remaining available, is one of the best ways to ease the transition and foster a positive learning environment.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter for additional tips and advice to help your college student succeed. You can also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.

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