As parents, we should support our kids throughout their life. This means as children, teens, and yes, even adults. For parents with college age kids, your relationships can change as they enter a new stage of life with new responsibilities and independence.
To help you get started on supporting your college student, PreventEd’s Talk About It program provides a free talking kit designed for college-age students. It covers topics like recognizing your child’s needs, how to prepare for tough conversations, and how to support them.
Understand What Your College Student Needs
The realities your college student is facing now that they are living independently with new responsibilities can be challenging for them—and for you. Remember that they need space to develop as a person and make their own choices. However, they will still need your support and, at times, your advice—even if they don’t directly ask for it!
Check For Signs That They May Be Struggling
College life can be hard for new students. With the stress of new responsibilities, some college students struggle and may be tempted to turn to substances like alcohol to cope. If you believe your student is struggling, reach out and let them know that you’re there for them.
Not sure what to look for? Some of the warning signs can include:
- Asking for more money without explanation
- Calling, texting, or coming home more or less often than usual
- Major changes in mood or behavior
- Significant weight gain or loss
- The sense that something is “off”
- Reluctant or opposed to going back to school
If your child is experiencing one or two of these signs, they could simply still be adjusting to college life. If they are experiencing three or more, it’s probably time to have a talk about what’s going on.
Prepare For The Difficult Conversations
When talking to your student, it’s important to prepare for difficult conversations about drugs, alcohol, and the changes they are experiencing in their life. Remember to listen to what your child is saying, think about what you want to say before you say it, and stick to the facts.
Avoid having a conversation if either party is under the influence or in a crisis, and ignore the urge to lecture or argue. Your college student is human too, so give them grace in their growth. Being patient will go a long way in having a productive—and healthy—conversation with your student and working together to create a plan to address a problem or concern.
Get Professional Advice At PreventEd
Not sure where to start in supporting your college student? There are many helpful resources out there for parents and caregivers, like books and articles, blogs and podcasts, parent groups, and even professional counseling.
At PreventEd, we have reached thousands of individuals through community programs, counseling referral services, and advocacy. If you or a loved one need professional advice, reach out to a PreventEd counselor today. We are ready to answer your questions and guide you to the help you need.