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Parent's Guide

Worried About My Child!

(A "Must Read" Article for Parents)
Melissa A. Giles, former Associate Director for Residence Life

Picture of family on move-in dayHaving a child living away from home can be stressful for some parents. Many worried thoughts may be tumbling through your head; "will my son eat right?" "will my daughter get enough sleep?," "will my daughter go to class?," "will my son's roommate be a good one?," "I'm spending so much money!"; Please be assured that many parents worry about these issues when a child goes away to college. It's OK to worry.

If you'll indulge me in some reflection for a moment... Recall, if you can, a time when you experienced a difficult period in your life. What was that time? Were there people around to make the problem disappear? Probably not. Were there people around to assist you in working through the problem and/or to be a support to you while you got through the problem on your own? Probably. How did you resolve the problem? Did you learn anything from the experience? Probably. Are you a better person for having struggled through the difficult time and for having gotten through it on your own? Probably.

Your child will experience some trying times while she/he is away at college. The difficulty may be with classes, it may be with managing money, it may be with roommates, or it may be another problem. I can recall many times when I have had the inclination to attempt to protect the people I care about from painful experiences. However, over time I've come to realize that I can't protect people from trying times and experiences for their whole lives. Firstly, because it's just not possible. Secondly, because I know that I've learned a great deal from making it through some difficult times on my own. One of the ways in which people grow and develop is through navigating difficulties and persevering over those difficulties on their own. It is important to remember that college is a time for your student to grow and develop and that with growth and development comes some challenges that your student must face on his or her own with a supportive ear and/or shoulder from an adult who cares about her/him.

When your student calls or comes home and describes a problem to you, try first to listen reflectively. This means that you should let your student talk about the problem and try to paraphrase what you are hearing and pick-up on feelings that she/he is having about the issue. This will help your student to reflect on the issue and will help him/her to feel that they have a listening ear. Even if you know how you would solve the problem or even if you think that one phone call from you would clear it up, it's important to help your student come up with some possible solutions on her/his own and to try out those solutions, sometimes even if you know that the solution your student has chosen won't work.

If your student is having problems you should also know that there are residential community staff members and other university staff and faculty members that are here for support as well. In the residential communities there are staff members called Resident Assistants (RAs) who are also undergraduate students and who are specially trained to assist students in working through their difficult times and who also know a great deal about Wright State's resources. In the campus apartment communities the very same staff members Resident Assistants. There are also several professional staff members that your student could go to for assistance called Community Directors or Community Coordinators who are a third type of staff member, who are Master's Degree holding professionals, that your student could go to for support.

Good luck in your adjustment to this new phase of your child's life and remember, it's OK to worry. Just know that through navigating her/his own difficulties, your student is more likely to become a mature, well-adjusted adult!

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Last updated: Tue. Nov-10-09, 14:46
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