A parent's guide to letting go

By Zila Renfro

This is it. The child that you’ve reared and cherished for
almost two decades is about to start their college adventure. As a parent, it
can be difficult to navigate the new territory that is dropping your child off
at university. He or she is trying out independence for the first time, and you
may be wondering how to support them without smothering them. No one wants to
be the crazy helicopter parent (or maybe you do, but know you shouldn’t). Here
are some tips on being there for your college student without being with them.


Be open about communication

Have an open discussion with your child about
communication without pressuring them. Do you want to schedule a time to talk
or play it more by ear? Do you prefer a phone call or skype? Make sure to
listen to your child’s wishes, and try to compromise if there are
disagreements. Be flexible! Your child may not realize it now, but they will
want you to make time for chats as
well. However, remember that the first week is a hectic time for college
students. It may be a good idea to have this discussion again two or three
weeks into the year when your son or daughter has a better feel for their


You can’t solve every problem

Your child might get a bad roommate. Maybe
he or she won’t make friends right away. Your child may even get the flu.
Instead of showing up at your child’s dorm door with a bowl of chicken soup,
take a step back and breathe. There are some situations where you can’t
intervene, and that’s okay. Be a listening ear, offer advice, and remember that
many of these problems are either temporary or learning experiences, and they
will get worked out in the end.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!


Point them to resources

In the same vein, whether it is because of
distance or newfound independence, you may not be the first line of help your
child turns to while at college. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty
of resources that can help him or her on campus. Encourage your child to check
out all that is offered to them at McKinley Health Center, the Counseling
Center, Disability Resources and Educational Services and the Women’s
Resources Center among many more.


Trust your child 

      In times of intense worry about the
well-being of your college student, it helps to remember that they are filled
(consciously or subconsciously) with years of your imparted wisdom. What you
have taught them over the years will unequivocally pop into their minds at some
point or another in their college careers, and they will thank you for it.
Therefore, try not to worry about constant reminders. 


Enjoy it!

Your college student is going to love their
time away at university — and so should you! While time spent with your child
will definitely be missed, it’s also a great opportunity to use that new free
time for yourself. Curl up with a book, catch up on that TV show, or do a
little traveling. Your child is studying at a world-class university. You’ve
earned it, parent.