The summer months will quickly slip by and before long you will be saying goodbye to your college student.
If they are freshman it is particularly difficult to get them ready for this college experience but even if they are returning college students, parents have home work to do over the summer.
Mistake #1 Recognizing that you may be having some of the same feelings as your college bound child.
Your college bound child is having feelings and worries about this next step in their life. You have some of the same feelings. This is your child and it’s hard to let go of them. Make an opportunity to share these feelings. When you share your feelings with your student, it opens the door for them to share what they are feeling with you.
Mistake #2 Avoiding difficult conversations.
Use this time over the summer to talk with your student about the expectations you have. Do not avoid conversations that need to happen. You need to talk about money, course loads and activities. It is so much better to have these conversations when you are calm. Often these conversations occur in anger and after there is already a problem.
Mistake #3 Parents do not share with their young adults some of the learning experiences they had at this age.
So much can be taught with stories. Kids love to laugh at the folly of their parents. Story telling is a great art and kids of all ages enjoy them. This can normalize what the student is feeling and it gives them the confidence that you understand.
Mistake #4 Do not wait until they at college to assume responsibilities.
Start transferring more responsibilities to your student when they are still with you. If they have difficulty, then you are close by to help them problem solve the solution. This can be banking, learning to do their laundry, or paying their own bills. Parents often forget that there is a learning curve and most of us have made a few mistakes in the process. Once the child is at college there are so many other stresses that paying those bills may not have the priority they need to have, laundry becomes a very minor detail and what does it mean to be overdrawn?
Mistake #5 Not giving the student experience with budgeting their money.
Budgeting is a major adjustment. Talk a lot about managing money. Give examples…grabbing a gourmet coffee every day can get expensive. They will need to make good choices. Do they want to go out on Friday night to see a movie or do they want that daily latte? It has to be real or the student does not understand the lesson. It might be a good idea, to have them write everything out so they can see the money coming in and going out… visually.
Mistake #6 Not allowing independence as a preparation for the student to be on their own.
Start relaxing the curfew and see how they handle it. You may be surprised. When the freedom is there, the student may act responsibly showing you they have matured. This is your opportunity to express that you believe in them and only expect responsible behavior. Talk in the positive. “You behavior tells me you are responsible…”
Mistake #7 Parents wait until it is too late to teach their kids necessary skills to survive on their own.
Daily Living Skills need to be learned and practiced. Expect your child to do their own laundry, and to cook and prepare simple meals. Discuss what are good snack items to keep in their rooms? Teach them how to shop and where to shop. Should they buy their food supplies at the convenience store or a grocery store? They may not have a clue of the price difference.
The goody in all this is you get to spend precious time with your young adult. Do your best to keep it pleasurable. There is a lot of emotion for both the student and the parent during the summer before college. Both of you have a big adjustment coming up and the adjustment begins during the summer.
Make special dates with your child for a lunch or an activity you both enjoy, with no hard conversations topics to cover, just enjoy being together. You might consider a summer family vacation, special family nights that have mandatory attendance and simple quiet moments. You are making memories both for yourself and for your college bound child. Remember, home will always be your child’s anchor.