Grown & Flown, Still Connected: Maintaining Strong Relationships with Your College Kids

By Samrat Saxena|3 - 4 mins read| June 19, 2024

Watching your child begin their college journey is a bittersweet milestone. You feel immense pride in their independence, yet a pang of emptiness echos in your heart as the familiar rhythms of home life shift. It’s natural to feel a disconnect – after all, you’re both navigating a period of transition.

Do not be afraid, you’re not alone. Many parents are struggling with maintaining strong relationships with their college kids. Today, we will be talking about why this might happen, and how to navigate this exciting new chapter together.

Understanding the Disconnect

First, you must acknowledge the reasons why communication is getting harder. You’re not alone in this; it’s a common hurdle. Here’s why:

  • Empty Nest Syndrome: As parents, you may experience a sense of loss with your child’s absence. This can lead to unintentionally smothering communication. This will only make your kids feel pressured.
  • Their New World: College life is not only about academics. It involves social exploration and newfound independence as well. It is time to consider the factor that they might be genuinely busy or simply too overwhelmed to constantly keep you informed. Hence, you might be getting fewer calls or texts.
  • Shifting Dynamics: Your child is transitioning from a sheltered teenager to n somewhat independent young adult. This development can make them crave space to make their own decisions and explore new ways of communicating.

Remember, your child is also adjusting. They might miss you but be too busy or self-conscious to reach out. It is important to see things from their perspective as well.

From Daily Check-Ins to Meaningful Conversations

The constant communication of high school days might not be possible in college. Your child is likely juggling classes, social events, and newfound responsibilities.

Here are some tips to encourage meaningful connection in this long-distance relationship:

  • Respect their schedule: Let them know you’re always available to talk, but don’t bombard them with texts. Suggest regular call times that work for both of you.
  • Shift the focus: Instead of micromanaging their daily lives, ask open-ended questions about their classes, friends, and interests.
  • Embrace new forms of communication: Texting is great for quick check-ins, but consider video calls or sending care packages for a more personal touch.
  • Active listening: Pay attention to their words and emotions. Don’t jump to advice; offer support and a listening ear.

Remember, you’re a Team, Not a Drill Sergeant

College isn’t just about academics; it’s a social and emotional learning ground too. Encourage them to come to you with their struggles, both academic and personal. Let them know you’re there to guide them, not control them.

Here are some ways to offer support without hovering:

  • Be a sounding board: Help them overcome difficult situations by offering different perspectives without imposing solutions.
  • Empower their problem-solving skills: Ask questions that help them come to their own conclusions.
  • Focus on building resilience: College can be challenging. Encourage them to learn from setbacks and celebrate their successes.

Empty Nest? Embrace a Full Life!

While your child is finding their wings, this gives you time to rediscover yourself. Pursue hobbies you put on hold for them, reconnect with friends or family, or explore new interests.

Here are some ways to use this “empty nest” time productively:

  • Reconnect with your partner: Rediscover the joys of your relationship.
  • Explore personal growth: Take a class, volunteer, or travel.
  • Maintain your own social circle: Nurture friendships that fulfill you.

The Journey Continues (and Gets Even Better!)

Remember, this period of adjustment is temporary. By focusing on open communication, mutual respect, and respecting their independence, you’ll strengthen your bond. The college years are a chance to see your child transform into a confident adult, and your role evolves into a supportive guide on their life’s path. Embrace this new chapter, and enjoy watching them grow!

TheParentZ provides Parenting Tips & Advice to parents.

About The Author:

Samrat Saxena

Last Updated: Wed Jun 19 2024

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