Transition to College Life Provides New Stresses For Parents and Children
> 7/14/2006 9:57:58 AM

Barring childbirth, the day that a teenager first leaves home for school may be the most important point in the parent/child relationship. Caught in an uncertain period of transition, young people respond in many often contradictory ways: some breath a long sigh of relief at escaping home and beginning the journey toward self-sufficiency, while others cannot accept the pressures associated with such a lifestyle shift. In any case, most students have more than one moment of self-doubt and anxiety over their newfound responsibilities.

A recent CNN report on the issue discusses how parents might help ease these common growing pains. Respecting new college students and treating them like the young adults they are will ultimately be more productive than coddling and protecting them. Students inevitably encounter trouble spots during school, be they alcohol and drug use, demanding social lives, or academic pressures. Instead of indulging in typical paranoias and worrying excessively about the lives of their absent kids, parents should consider encouraging and congratulating them for their often considerable achievements. 

Psychologist and professor Laura S. Kasner specializes in adolescent behavior. Her acclaimed book "The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life" advises parents of school-bound kids:

Many of today's parents are shocked by how much longer they are parenting, and they don't really know how to do it. The launching years present a whole new challenge for today's parents...Regardless of a parent's experience, what all young people need from their parents is information, well-informed guidance, encouragement to attend campus workshops, and challenges to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

She notes that preparation is a large part of the initial equation, and that parents should make it clear to children that they represent a stable base, offering reliable emotional support and not judging their kids based on missteps. For parents of struggling students, she offers these words of advice:

When young people fail to launch, the reason can almost always be traced back to a deficit in a collection of critical assets we call "the big ten." They include strengths ranging from motivation and initiative to social skills to healthy habits of living. Parents who focus on the full developmental picture of their child are giving their children the infrastructure for both a successful launch and a fruitful and productive life.

Such statements can read like overly generalized platitudes, but situations always vary greatly from family to family, and parents would be best advised to maintain an air of positivity and love for their kids. While many concerns about risky behaviors and new responsibilities are wholly warranted, kids need stability in such uncertain times, and some form of reassurance that they can live their own succesful and fulfilling lives may be the best gift a parent can give.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy