Transition Tips for Parents
Your son’s departure for university next fall will mark an important step forward into his adult life; it will be a significant transition for you as well. Whether this is your first, last, or middle child, family life will change in notable ways. Because so much time and energy are invested into the university application process, there is a tendency on the part of parents to think their job is done when admission is gained and fees are paid. However, wise parents realize that while their role is changing, it is not diminishing. As the saying goes, you may no longer be “the sage on the stage,” but you should remain “the guide on the side.”
First-year university can be a challenging time for students, especially for those who have come from a high-support school such as UCC. Typically, our graduates are exceptionally well prepared for the academic rigours of their new environment; if they struggle, it is because of social-emotional issues.
Margo Bane Woodacre, co-author (along with her daughter) of Doors Open from Both Sides, offers some helpful advice:
- Recognize the importance of friends to your son. Be prepared that he may want to spend a great deal of time over the next few months with the friends from this stage of his life before they all head off in different directions.
- Plan some meaningful family time this summer–this might be a special trip or something as simple as going to movies together or playing golf.
- Anticipate the emotions you might feel as you send your son off. You will be proud and excited, but also anxious and a little sad.
- Before your son leaves this fall, have a frank discussion (or several!) about mutual expectations in terms of grades, budgeting, and communication.
- During the first semester, allow your son to adjust to university life. Plan on staying in touch, but don’t expect him to contact you every day.
- If you do sense that your son is having adjustment problems, encourage him to use the excellent support services available at every university.
- Be prepared that you may encounter some challenges on his first visit home. Negotiate adjustments to family rules and expectations if necessary. Don’t be hurt if your child wants to sleep late or spend a lot of time with his friends, but do communicate your desire for some family time as well.
The Canadian Campus Companion: Everything you need to know about going to university and college is a publication that will prompt productive family discussions. In most cases, the university your son plans to attend will also provide helpful tips for parents, either on their website or during orientation sessions.