You can’t believe the moment is here: your baby is about to start college. How did the time go by so quickly? Before your child leaves for school, you still have some one-on-one time with him. Make the most of this time before the nest is empty by giving your child the information and support he needs to confidently spread his wings in college.
Here are five important parent-child discussions to have with your high school grad before he or she leaves for college.
- Have an honest talk about drugs and alcohol. As I wrote about recently, I support the way one mom I interviewed in the past reminded her son about the perils of using drugs and alcohol, and reiterated the legal ramifications. Then she told him that if he were to use alcohol or drugs, to call her, anytime, and she would respond, no questions asked. It is important that your child know the potential pitfalls of drugs and alcohol, but also that he knows you will always be a safe place he can turn to and trust in times of trouble.
- Talk openly about sex and respect. Whether you have a son or daughter, it is important to have frank discussions about sex in college. Remind them about their own safety, but also to watch out for their friends when they are out together at night. And, discuss how it is important to treat others they are dating with great respect.
- Review the family rules regarding college and the potential consequences. Do you have certain academic and attendance expectations for your child? If so, clearly outline those expectations with your child before he leaves for college, along with the potential consequences should he fall short of those expectations. Remind him that often the first year of school is the hardest year, and if he creates a regular study schedule that he can stick to, then he won’t find himself having to pull all-nighters, cramming for tests at the last-minute. A regular study schedule will also allow him to do more of the social and extracurricular activities he wants to do in college.
- Talk about smart money matters. Arm your grad with information and resources to help him handle financial matters responsibly while he’s away. This includes going over the pitfalls of credit cards, keeping financial information safe online and while he’s out and about and budgeting.
- Remind him that his family will always be his home team. Make sure your grad knows that no matter what, you will always be there for him. You can never tell your child “I love you” too much, and during this time of transition, he needs to hear it often. Remind him that you will always be there to answer any questions, to support and encourage him and most of all, to provide unconditional love. That security can provide endless comfort and give him confidence no matter how far away he may be.
Some of these discussions may be more difficult for you and your high school grad than others, but if you use my Empathic Process, it will help ensure you are each active participants in the conversation, with accountability. The important thing at this point in both of your lives is to keep the lines of communication open. Continue talking with your child; the more he feels he can count on you to be there while he’s away, the more likely he might be to continue making smarter decisions on his own.