It is critical that parents remain involved in their college student’s life regardless of all of the materials today about helicopter parenting. While a student needs to learn to make their own decisions and handle their own situations, it is in the best interest of the student to have support from their parents. Support does not mean you call the college president because they fail a class. Here’s a better idea of how parents may be helpful to their student.
Parents, you can be involved before the student arrives on campus by:
Knowing what programs the school has in place to decrease the amount of drug and alcohol use.
Visiting the campus and asking the professionals the hard questions. For example, how many drug/alcohol violations occurred in this hall last semester? What is the campus security like?
Picking up a campus newspaper and following it online. This could clue you in to any problems occurring on campus.
Being aware of the culture of the school. Do your research. Is it a party school?
Knowing the schools drug and alcohol policies and how they enforce them.
Sending their student the right messages about what college is and is not.
Knowing what services are available on campus if you gather that your student needs assistance. These include but are not limited to health services, mental health services, career advising, wellness centers, or disability services.
Reinforcing your relationship with your student without being in their business. This is a time where your student will want to be very independent. Let them have that freedom. You can still be their friend without having to be involved with everything. Let them know how much you care about them and spend what time you can together, try to do things you know they enjoy.
Once your student is on campus parents can be involved by:
Making sure your student knows they can always turn to you. There will be times when they will need you.
Trying to make an effort to come to their events and activities when you are invited (if you can).
Talking to your student about their progress. Talk about their academic and social lives. Even if they do not tell you the full truth about these things, they will definitely know that you care.
Talking to your student about healthy behaviors. Asking them about their diet and exercise without criticizing them.
Learning about your students roommate(s). Do they engage in risky behaviors? Are they causing a distraction to your student? If so, you should address this with your student not their RA.
Making your expectations clear to your student.
Encouraging your student to get involved with community service.
Being a good role model of healthy behaviors.