Parental Dos & Don'ts: Your Kid's First Year of College

Sheri Reed
Tweens & Teens

first year in college, parental dos and don'tsDuring your child's first year of college, it's important to stay connected but not OVERLY connected.

While it may be tempting to hover in on all the new goings-on in your child's new college life, you'll actually do your child a service by letting them assert their independence, make their own choices, and solve their own problems (with just a *little* advice from mom).

According to Dr. Joanne G. Sujansky, CSP, and Dr. Jan Ferri-Reed, the authors of the new book, Keeping the Milennials (Wiley), parents CAN help bolster their child's independence and future hire-ability by hovering less. The authors emphasize that "hovering parents are limiting their children's success."

Parental Do's and Don'ts While Your Child's in College:


  • Help them move into their dorm room or apartment
  • Guide them on their course of study
  • Send a care package when they are sick
  • Give them advice on how to deal with roommates
  • Guide them on assignments when they ask
  • Coach them on how to interview for a job
  • Introduce them to people who can give career advice
  • Ask how things are going


("You may laugh at some of the 'Don'ts,' but they actually come from real cases of extreme, over-the-top helicoptering parents of millennials," says Sujansky.)

  • Move close to them for a while (or move in with them) to clean their room, do their laundry, or make sure they are "okay"
  • Pick their major
  • Register them for their classes
  • Email/call their professors
  • Call them after each class or text them for hourly updates
  • Call the roommates' parents to solve the conflict
  • Collect research for them
  • Go to a job interview with them

And since the authors say it's important to ask your child how things are going...

Four Ways to Stay Connected with Your College-Bound Child

  1. Video Chat - Buy a web cam for $20 dollars and download a free video chat service, like Google Talk and Skype. Schedule “face-to-face time” each week.
  2. Phone - Save money by signing up for a family plan. Not sure which service is best? Compare family plans on MyRatePlan.
  3. Text - While it may not make any sense to engage in a brief two or three word exchange with your own child, just get over it. You’ll have a much better chance of learning what’s going on in his/her busy college life if you simply give in to the power of the new shorthand world. Sign up for a free text service, and you’ll spare the added phone bill costs. Check out: Text for Free
  4. Snail Mail - Nothing will bring a smile to your son/daughter's face more than opening their mailbox to find a good old fashion letter or greeting card. And every college kids loves a care packages with homemade goodies inside.

And if regular contact falls off your child's radar, lay down the law - "I'm your parent, and I’m entitled to at least one phone call per week."

Is your child off to college away from home for the first time? How are you coping?

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