As parents, you want to raise your children to be responsible, decent, and compassionate adults.
One of the biggest challenges a parent can face is when their child goes to college. If it involves a move away from home, apart from the ‘empty nest syndrome’, it’s also possibly the first time you won’t see your child on a daily basis.
Perhaps you’re worried that your child will be lonely, out of their depth or struggle to connect with new people. Or maybe it’s the opposite – maybe you’re concerned that your child will experiment with sex, drugs, alcohol, and partying.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed but it’s also important to accept and trust them for who they are and to let them go.
If you’re still worried that they’re not quite ready for college life, here are a few things you can teach them before they leave:
1. How to cook three healthy meals
If you have cooked all of your child’s meals for their whole lives, there is a high probability that they will live off chicken fillet rolls, pasta and cereal in college!
Teach them how to make three simple but nutritious meals to ensure they feel their best, save money and don’t develop bad eating habits.
2. The importance of sleep
The lure of unsupervised evenings can tempt even the most diligent of students to stay up into the wee, small hours of the morning.
But even if they’re not out socialising, staying up watching TV shows, YouTube clips or going down a Reddit/Twitter rabbit hole play havoc with your child’s mood and concentration so it’s vital that they know just how important sleep is to their overall experience of college life.
3. How to manage their money
Teaching your child to be responsible with money doesn’t mean making them fend for themselves completely. It’s about them knowing that you’re not an ATM machine and that if you give them an allowance, it’s up to them to make it last.
As long as it doesn’t interfere with their college schedule, having a part-time job can teach responsibility, timekeeping, people skills as well as the concept of ‘earned’ money.
College will present your child with a variety of situations that they will have to navigate alone. It is not up to you to try and protect them from everything – it is your job to ensure they’re equipped with the self-confidence to handle themselves in whatever scenario they find themselves in.
Teach your child the power of saying ‘no’, how to stand up for someone who is being mistreated and how to walk away from a relationship where they are being treated with respect.
5. How to use the washing machine
There are a lot of young people who don’t know how to use a washing machine. Give them a quick tutorial before they leave. Even if they one in their new accommodation is totally different, at least they’ll have an idea!
6. Study/Social life balance
There’s a happy medium between never showing up for class and never leaving the library. Talk to your son or daughter about the need for balance, the importance of friendships and new experiences while also keeping up with their studies.
College is a difficult time for some young people. Not everyone fits in right away or finds the ‘friends for life’ group so often depicted in TV and film.
Show them how a kind word or deed or even a simple ‘hello’ can change someone’s day for the better.