June Parent and Teen Tips
Family Honor Parent Tips: Sending Your Teen to College
The first day of kindergarten. The first sleepover. The first solo driving trip. While these flickers of independence may have led you to think you were ready for this moment as a parent, Family Honor knows that few things are as emotionally-charged as dropping your child off at their college dormitory and driving off into the sunset while they begin their life of independence.
As landmark moments in parenting go, this will not be an easy one but it is certainly a necessary step in many teen’s road to adulthood. Take a deep breath and start to think of how you’ll handle the different challenges this moment will hold. A little bit of planning will give you the opportunity to make the most of your time with your child and enjoy this milestone!
1. Instead of thinking about how a “perfect” experience would be, pray for your family. There are many aspects that you simply can’t control and rather than imagine how you want things to go, pray for your child and all you’ll be meeting.
2. When the moment for good-bye comes, don’t feel that you have to fit 18 years of advice into a two hour dinner. Just give them a hug and assure them that you’re only a phone call away. Your words will resonate in their lives more than your child may admit to you.
3. Find the local mass schedule and print out a copy. Check to see if there’s a Newman Center, Catholic Student Center or FOCUS missionaries and leave their contact information with your child. Offer to sponsor your child and a friend if they’d like to attend a campus ministry retreat. (A $30 retreat fee can seem overwhelming for college student!)
4. When it comes to the other students you’ll meet, don’t try to force friendships for your child—enjoy meeting the other parents and leave your teen to meet people on their own. There are often designated times for students to socialize when they are moving in to their dorms. Encourage your child to attend—without you.
5. Examine the orientation or move in schedule ahead of time and talk with your child about the right time for you to leave. Then, stick with it. It can be tempting to stick around for “one more thing” and avoid good byes, but they do have to be said. It will be difficult—try to leave when your child will have an activity to attend immediately after to take their mind off of it. And treat yourself to something as well!
6. While it’s great if you can leave some supplies, remember that for your child, scavenging for ramen noodles will be part of their experience. Don’t worry if you forgot something. They’ll get to Wal-Mart eventually.
7. Do not provide your child with anything illegal like beer, wine or weapons. Your child will learn the rules specific to their dormitory—some campuses allow alcohol and some do not, so don’t panic if you see older students with alcohol. The rules will be explained to your child.
8. If you have concerns about your child’s roommate or suitemates, talk to your child about it—not their roommate or RA. Remember that it’s a difficult time for everyone and they might not make the best first impression while they’re in the midst of settling in. Alert your child to any concerns you have, but leave the actual reporting to them.
9. Allow your child and their roommate or suitemate to arrange their dormitory to their preference. You may think it’s absurd to put a fridge under a bed, but in their minds, it’s a Pinterest-worthy decorating project.
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Family Honor Teen Tips: Getting Ready for College
Moving into your college dorm is one of the most exciting moments in life. You’ll be completely on your own, making your own decisions, schedule and friends. However, it’s important to remember the things you’ve learned from your parents and other “flag people” in your life and to ask them for help when you encounter choices and you’re not sure of the answer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to help make the transition a little smoother:
1. Realize that while you might be very excited to be moving away, this is a difficult time for your parents. Be patient and respect their feelings.
2. Find the Catholic Campus Ministry program and put events like Mass times and retreats on your calendar. This is a great opportunity to make friends that share your values.
3. Shop for as much as you can ahead of time—stores will be crowded with lost of last-minute shoppers and you don’t want to spend valuable time at orientation hunting down a coffee mug.
4. Get décor you like—don’t worry about matching your roommate. It’s great if your bed spreads just so happen to both be black and white with pink dust ruffles or Star Wars themed, but odds are you won’t be living together indefinitely. Choose what you like and what feels homey.
5. Look at the schedule for moving in and orientation with your parents ahead of time. Talk to them about what you hope to accomplish that weekend and when everyone thinks it would be good to say “goodbye”. This won’t be easy but it does have to happen! Give yourself a moment to be sad (it’s normal!) and then find some folks to hang out with.
6. Avoid the temptation to spend all your time talking to your friends from home on Facebook or texting. You have things in common with the people in your dorms— but you have to talk to them to find out what!
7. Give your roommate and suitemates a chance before you complain to your RA (Resident Advisor). Move-in week is a stressful time for everyone and it may take a few impressions to hit it off. Remember that you don’t need to be best friends, just have a peaceful co-existence. However, if they are doing something dangerous or illegal talk to your RA immediately – annoying habits like loud music are opportunities for you to grow in patience and compromise. Illegal things like drugs can get you all in trouble.
8. Call home! You’re experiencing all sorts of new things and your parents want to know about it. Talk to your parents ahead of time about how often they’d like you to check in and be sure to honor their wishes. They lived on their own for the first time once, too, and they may have some good advice for you.