Parent’s Corner: Helping Your Child Achieve Independence
College is a time when kids spread their wings and fly, or at least it’s the time to be learning the various flight patterns. For parents, college is definitely a time to let go and allow your child to make his or her own decisions – and mistakes.
When your child moves into an off campus apartment, it’s a new level of independence. In the dorms there are RAs on the floors – older students who are available to answer questions or help the younger kids out. In a sorority house, there’s a house mom, and house members who are charged with maintaining order in the house. The same goes for a fraternity. In an apartment, these intermediaries are not present, which means when conflicts arise, chances are, if the kids can’t handle it themselves, you are going to get the call.
When your son or daughter calls you with a complaint about his or her roommate, your first inclination is probably to solve the problem. Whether that means providing your child with the script for dealing with the roommate or driving the 200 miles to campus to do it yourself, as parents we are good problem solvers.
But when that call comes, give yourself a few more seconds to consider the problems you cause by “saving the day.”
Independence comes from dealing with your own problems. College age children are definitely old enough to fight their own battles. As a parent, your role has now shifted to one of support versus control. Avoid the urge to solve the problem and instead, have a conversation with your child about options he or she may have for dealing with the situation.
More than one simple argument between roommates has been blown out of proportion by the involvement of well-meaning Moms or Dads. Help your child grow by keeping their problems at arm’s length. When it comes to roommate problems, it’s best for the issue to be solved within the apartment walls, with just a little help in the far distant background from Mom or Dad.