Staying Connected: Tips for Maintaining a Strong Parent-Child Relationship

Sending your child off to college is a major life transition for both parents and students. While it’s an exciting time filled with new opportunities and experiences, it can also bring feelings of separation and anxiety. Maintaining a strong parent-child relationship during this period is crucial for emotional support and mutual understanding. 

Here are some practical tips to help you stay connected literally and emotionally with your college student....

Establish Clear Communication

1. Set Expectations Early: Before your child leaves for college, have an open discussion about how often and through which means you will communicate. Some students might prefer daily check-ins, while others may be comfortable with weekly updates. No child is the same so don't compare to one of the siblings, what the routine ws in high school, or what other parents are doing. This is between YOU & YOUR TEEN.

2. Use Multiple Platforms: Be open to the use of various communication tools such as texting, calling, video chats, and social media. Each platform offers different advantages, from quick updates to more in-depth conversations. Tech is always changing and our teens are on the cutting edge of it all....you may be learning new things every semester! 

3. Respect Their Schedule: Be mindful of your child's class schedule, study times, and social activities. Give them space and grace to get back to you. Avoid calling or texting during known busy periods to prevent disruptions. Be sure to also let them know yours so they know when it's best to catch up!

Create a Routine

4. Schedule Regular Check-ins: Establish a routine for regular check-ins, whether it’s a weekly phone call, a Sunday night video chat, or a daily text message. In the beginning, consistency helps in maintaining a steady connection if they are needing that with you. Don't be alarmed if they say once a week or less...but be honest if you are needing assurance in the beginning months to just hear from them and know they are okay.

5. Share Family Updates: Keep your child informed about family news and events. This helps them feel included and connected to home even when they are far away. We created a Family Chat and Shared Album through our iPhones to stay connected with all 4 kids. Now we have a family snap chat....not my favorite but it's where they are, so I am too!

Offer Support and Encouragement

6. Be a Good Listener: When your child shares their experiences, listen fully without immediately offering solutions or judgments. Sometimes they just need to vent or talk things through. They will stop communicating if they feel a lecture or a big conversation is going to happen every time.

7. Provide Emotional Support: College is stressful. Offer words of encouragement, and remind your child that it's okay to ask for help, whether from you, friends, or campus resources. Occasionally text Scriptures throughout the week without asking any questions. Offer to pray with them on the phone.

8. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate their successes, no matter how small. Whether it’s a good grade, joining a club, or making new friends, positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Encourage Independence

9. Encourage Problem-Solving: Support your child in developing their problem-solving skills by encouraging them to find solutions independently. Do your best to facilitate the questions that lead them to the right place. This fosters confidence and self-reliance. Plus, as it goes with college, they have access to Advisors and Teachers who are there to support the students when it comes to classroom, schedule and campus questions. 

10. Respect Their Independence: Give your child the space to grow and make their own decisions. Trust that they are capable of managing their new responsibilities. You may not always understand them or agree, but showing your support with your valued opinions and praying with them, and for them, is valuable.

Stay Involved

11. Visit When Possible: If able, help them with hometown visits as you also plan occasional visits to their college. Attend family weekends, sports events, or other activities where parents are welcome. Just make sure these visits are welcome and don’t intrude on their new life.

12. Send Care Packages: Everyone loves a surprise! Sending a care package with their favorite snacks, a handwritten note, or small essentials can brighten their day and show that you’re thinking of them. As long as you have their address, most dorms allow deliveries from Vendors and Amazon.

Make Time for Personal Interaction

13. Plan Family Events: Coordinate family events during breaks or long weekends. Whether it’s a short trip, a holiday gathering, or just a weekend at home, these moments are invaluable for reconnecting, even if it's a Zoom Party.

14. Engage in Shared Interests: Find common interests that you can share from a distance. Watch the same TV shows, read the same books, or follow the same sports teams. These shared experiences can be great conversation starters, ice breakers and connection places as you both establish new routines and hobbies.

Embrace Technology

15. Use Apps to Stay Connected: There are many apps designed to help families stay in touch. From group chats to shared calendars, find what works best for you and your child.

16. Virtual Activities: Engage in virtual activities together, such as online games, virtual movie nights, or even video call dinners. These activities can create a sense of togetherness despite the physical distance.

Be Patient and Understanding

17. Accept Changes: College is a transformative time. Your child will grow and change, and so will your relationship. Be open to this evolution and adapt your communication style as needed, helping them stay focused on Matthew 6:33, seeking God first always!

18. Give Them Time: There will be periods when your child might be too busy or stressed to communicate frequently. Be patient and understanding during these times, knowing that your support is always there when they need it.

Just as with any relationship, respect and boundaries go a long way! Maintaining a strong parent-child relationship during the college years takes effort, but it’s crucial to remain calm through it all. By staying connected, offering support, and respecting their independence, you can ensure that your bond remains strong and continues to grow even as they (and you!) embark on this new chapter in life.

*If you are reading this and your kiddo is still in high school, implementing some of these healthy habits and processes is beneficial for both you and them. 18 years of living in the same space, hearing each other's voice every day and helping one another creates a void when they move out, which is why this is such a bittersweet time for everyone in the family. Younger siblings will grieve in their own way too, so be mindful of them throughout this life transition. 

I pray this is full of helpful resources for you. 
Blessings Mama, 

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