8 Simple Rules of College Parenting

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Anne Weeks
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Audrey Jackson shares tips for Effective Parenting:

1. You are not the student: You have already modeled good judgment and behavior. It is now time to allow your child to apply what they have learned from you. College is a time to assert independence, to learn to make decisions, to learn from failure, and to test the waters of adulthood. Be supportive, but do not be directive.

2. Do not expect a thank you: Be supportive and encouraging. Celebrate the successes. Actively listen when there are struggles. But, do not expect a thank you. Yes, you have taught your child to be polite and to acknowledge gratitude, but remember college is all about learning independence, so your child may not recognize that the successes earned are a result of the strong foundation you nurtured. Someday, your child will realize this and will say thank you. Patience is a virtue.

3. Ask questions: Ask questions in a non-judgmental way: “How is it going? Any classes you like? Any interesting professors? How’s the dorm?” Avoid anything that suggests you deserve something, such as “I deserve to know as I pay the bills.”

4. Anticipate change: Your child will mature, and with that will come some change. This is okay – it means your child is embracing adulthood. Also, remember this is a developmental process, so some change will alter and some will stick.

5. Your stress = Their stress: Stay calm – always. Don’t feed into their stress. College will present new challenges to your child, and this will cause stress. However, the more they manage stressful situations, the better they will be as an adult problem-solver.

6. Support: Parental support is great in terms of finances, actively listening, and being there for your child. However, be there when asked. Weigh what your role should be – will it be listening to your child determine what plan of action to take? Or, will you try to jump in to take over with college personnel? The latter always ends in creating ill will, whether it be with your child or with the college.

7. Keep Communicating: Let your child take the lead, but be there to listen:

  • Communicate adult to adult.
  • Communicate in a nonjudgmental manner.
  • Communicate with consideration to both parties.
  • Communicate with a purpose.
  • Close communication with a follow-up.
  • Communicate in the tone that always shows love.

8. Trust: Trust your child, trust the parenting you did to prepare them for adulthood, trust the college – colleges have been doing this for a long time and have safety nets in place.

You are only human, and it’s okay to make a mistake. But, if you do, own up to the mistake and ask your child how you can do better the next time. Remember, life is a learning curve for both you and your child.


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Anne Weeks

Anne Macleod Weeks is a graduate of Lawrence and Villanova Universities. She has been an educational administrator and English teacher for 38 years, specializing in the area of college admission. Ms. Weeks has been a leader in the college admission and Advanced Placement arenas and has published on pertinent educational topics in a variety of national papers and journals. She currently resides in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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