The Push-Pull of Independence
During the transition to college, your relationship with your child isn’t merely likely to change, it’s certain to change. New and evolving boundaries and major shifts in responsibilities may feel unfamiliar. For students, increased personal freedom seems at the same time wonderful and frightening — as they seek to find balance between their own growing need for self-reliance and their desire for the comforting emotional presence of a parent.
College students are navigators in the difficult waters that separate adolescence from adulthood. As they take more responsibility for their daily lives and develop life skills that are as vital as any academic coursework, it’s important to remain a reliable source of support.
College-age children still think of their parents as a primary source of support when times get tough. An mtvU-Jed Foundation study showed 63 percent of students would turn to their parents if they found themselves in emotional distress.
You’re a caring parent who’s involved in your child’s life. Over the years, you researched and sought out the best programs, the most enriching opportunities, and always got your child where she needed to be, fully prepared and on time. You knew what homework assignments had to be done, when they were due, and made sure everything happened in a wisely prioritized and timely fashion. You regularly reviewed (and sometimes helped with) assignments. Perhaps you’ve also intervened on behalf of your child, with teachers, friends or other adults. You did so because you care.
Yet experts agree, when parents cross the line from caring to hovering, they inadvertently stifle their child’s coping capacities. Fortunately, it’s not too late to get your child on the path to practical and emotional independence. How? When you talk, allow your son or daughter to set the agenda for some of your conversations. Work on techniques to give your child the space to build his own resiliency and decision-making skills.
Sources used in this article: MTVu AP College Stress and Mental Health Poll
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