Your child is about to fly the nest, this is a very exciting time in both their life and yours. Here are some tips for parents of university students.
Allow your child to make their own decisions
There is a balance between making decisions for your child and guiding them to make the best decision. When it comes to what university your child wants to attend it will most likely depend on what course they are choosing to study therefore doing your research in order to help them is always advised, however remember the decision should ultimately be up to them.
University is usually the first time your child has gained their own independence, with this they can choose to stay up as late as they want or even chose whether they want to have cake for dinner rather than a substantial meal. University is a prime time for a person to figure out who they are. The whole part of growing up is finding out who you are and what you want out of life. It is hard when you have learnt from your own mistakes and want to protect your child from making them too, however if you disagree with a decision your child has made you should try to allow your child to make mistakes, as this is the best way for them to learn.
Give them space
It is normal for students to be homesick for the first couple of weeks however once they have adapted to their new surroundings they may forget to call or reply to your messages every once in a while. Take this as a good sign, it means they’re too busy having fun! You need to give them space in order to help let them grow and figure things out for themselves. At university it is hard to juggle work and play, your child doesn’t need the extra stress of worrying about anything or anyone else. Don’t worry though as reading week will come around soon enough and they will most likely come back home and mess up your house again, then you for sure will not miss them.
Enjoy your own freedom
If it is your youngest or only child going to university you may realise you have a lot of spare time. Utilise this time, you can take up new hobbies, learn new dishes that you were too scared to try before, spend more time with your partner or other family members, do whatever makes you happy. This is also a transitional phase in your life too so it may take you time to get used to your child not being around as much but you will adjust.
Be ready to support them emotionally and financially
University is very expensive especially if your child is living away from home. This may be the first time your child has full freedom with their finances. You have to remember that university is not only a chance to study but it is also an experience. First year of university is a chance to meet new people and the best way to do this is by socialising. Unfortunately this can be expensive. Although student finance is extremely helpful, it doesn’t always stretch that far. Student overdrafts are there for a reason however this only helps if they are able to eventually pay it back. If you want to and also depending on your individual situation you may need to budget in order to help them. You can also encourage your child to get a weekend job as long as it doesn’t get in the way of their studies.
Emotionally, university can be draining. Some students experience ‘university burnout’ this is when a student is overwhelmed with stress and are not able to handle it. This mostly happens to students who have just finished sixth form and have gone straight into university. If you feel as if your child might suffer from this, a great way to prevent this is for students to enjoy their summer and get involved with letting loose during their universities fresher’s week.
Try not to worry
Lastly. worrying about your child as a parent is a given. Set a time for you to ring them each week and visit them as often as you can. Don’t be worried if your child seems to be partying too much. Work hard, play harder right? Your child will eventually find their balance. If you are worried that your child is not looking after themselves properly then a great way to ensure that they are is by sending or giving them a care package each month. Care packages can contain anything from food to cleaning supplies, this is a great way to know that no matter how they are handling their finances, they will still always have the necessities to get by.