College kids head off to Manila by the thousands to study in the best universities so they can have a shot at bigger opportunities. While this opens up many doors for much needed growth and personal development, the experience exposes the young adults to just as many hurdles and difficulties, from homesickness to financial constraints and difficulties fitting in the new social terrain. Parents struggle just as much, from separation anxiety to endless worrying and struggling to keep the balance between being supportive and being too overbearing. Allow the following tips to guide you along the way.
Stay connected without being overbearing
College is a time for exploring, experiencing new things, building relationships, and ultimately becoming an adult. Through technology, parents now have the opportunity to stay connected with their college kid, and share some of the day-to-day moments their child is experiencing in his new environment. Parents need to make sure they do not overuse this gift though, as communication when overdone can annoy the student and curtail his development into an independent, fully functioning adult.
To make sure you are keeping the balance, set some guidelines for effective use of technology to communicate with your child. First, allow your child to set some ground rules. Some kids would happily have you as a constant presence on their Facebook wall, while others would rather not have you commenting on their latest party photos. Consult your child to determine which platforms you can best use to stay in touch. You may also set a schedule. Remember that college can be a very hectic time for your child, what with all the academic and social demands. Be very understanding. This is the only way you can get your college student to open up, especially at a time when they are most prone to bouts of anxiety and depression. More than constant communication, what truly matters is an open one built on trust and understanding.
Always keep in mind that college is a time for your child to grow as a person. For true growth and self-discovery to happen, you must allow your child to make his own decisions, and even to make a mistake or two in the process. Make it clear that you are always there to provide some guidance and to support your child, but that you trust him to do the right thing.
Teach them how to properly handle their finances
Going off to college is most likely the first time your child is going to be financially independent. Even if you are the one giving them the money, they are still the ones who make the financial decisions. It is essential that you impart financial management skills, especially as they will soon discover that the metro is a far more expensive place to live in. One of the most important skills that you can teach your child is budgeting.
Demonstrate how to create a detailed budget. Make sure to provide a set amount each week. Work with your child on figuring out both real and perceived expenses. Encourage them to use an app or online budgeting tool, so the whole process don’t have to be too far out of his comfort zone. There is a myriad of online budgeting tools that will allow you to take full advantage of the latest technology and of your child’s techie skills.
To make sure that your child is on board, be able to stress the importance of budgeting. Explain that there will be a set amount coming in each month, and that she or he will have to deal with the consequences in case of over-budgeting. If you will be providing him or her a credit card, be sure to explain the consequences of racking up debt. Take the time to monitor their spending. Make sure you don’t get overbearing though. Properly communicate with your child, and let him or her know you trust him or her. Explain that mistakes are inevitable during the early stages when he is just learning the ropes. Help your child work through the learning curve. Be ready to send him emergency funds, but only when she or he absolutely needs it. Sure, money transfer services like that of Palawan Pera Padala are convenient and accessible, but try not to overuse it.
Show your love by sending a care package
The toxic combination of homesickness, academic pressure and social demands can easily send your child down the spiral of emotional turmoil. Though he is already in the process of asserting his independence and fully crossing over to adulthood, he still needs your tender loving care. In some cases even more so than ever. Take the time to express your love for your child by putting together a creative care package. Fill the package not only with things he has specifically requested, but with stuff that would remind him that he has a parent who is in tune with what he truly needs and wants. Take the chance to let him know that you were completely attentive when he was talking to you or opening up about the things he’s going through. Was he struggling with mathematics? Then go ahead and slip in a book that would help him. Did the art of calligraphy catch his fancy? Then send him a starter kit!
You can also use a care package to send a piece of home to your homesick college kid. Send him linens that smell just like home, cookies that can only be bought from the nearby bakery or snapshots of your everyday happenings. Your kid will love the nostalgic feelings the items will induce. And of course, fill the care package with the stuff he or she actually needs, like the favorite brand of razor blades, a favorite sweet-smelling shampoo, and other basic essentials. You can send out a package regularly, so your kid can have something amazing to look forward to. Or you can send one randomly if you know she or he is the type who loves surprises.
Leave reminders to guide your child along the way
Your child cares more about what you think than they are willing to express. Make sure your voice is one of encouragement and understanding. As they grapple the ropes while learning to make sense of their new school and environment, they will look to you for advice and guidance. Or sometimes they just need you to listen. Be sensitive and in tune with her or his feelings and mood. And always remember that the college years are a time for exploration. Do not be too hard on your child; it is during college that kids embrace new politics, philosophies, choice of clothing, and eating habits. Learn to step back and pick your battles. The best way your child can fully transition into adulthood is by making her or his own decisions and working out problems by her/himself. Leave points to keep him grounded, and to remind them of what truly matters. Otherwise, leave them be and trust them to do the right thing.
Letting go of your beloved child, and allowing them to set off on their own will prove to be a struggle. Remember that the experience is going to be even more difficult for your child who is just about to start dealing with the realities of adulthood. Make sure you do not add to the burden, and learn to be a helpful anchor and source of security for your college student.