As promised, I am continuing my blog about different conversations and things to do before your child leaves for college.
As the mother of two sons leaving for college in just a matter of weeks, I feel like time is slipping away from me, and the time with my boys is already limited to the few minutes before they leave for work or the conversation they have with me as they grab the car keys to go out for whatever is left to their
evening. Even though I know all of this is normal, I find that I crave more time with them, one because I know my days are numbered and they will soon be leaving me, but also because there is so much I want to share with them, wisdom, advice, tidbits that I am sure they need to know before they leave.
Hopefully at your house, you have found some time with your little cherubs and had some of these important conversations. Here are a few that are on my list.
One of the most important to us parents, will be a conversation regarding contact, and how and when that will happen throughout the time our children are in college. Every family will have different ideas of what seems a reasonable amount of times that communication between home and school occur. In our house, we have agreed that some sort of face to face (Facetime or Skype) will happen every Sunday night. The expectation is that for all of us, this is a priority but also an understanding that flexibility is important. This kind of communication is not only important for parents and the students who are away, but also for siblings who are used to conversing and sharing inside jokes and family stories whenever they want. Younger siblings need to know they are not forgotten and are still an important part of the lives of their college siblings. We have also agreed that weekday texts are fine as long as not constant or interfering. I can live with these parameters!
Finances are something I touched on in the last blog. Specifically two areas I feel need to be discussed.
Will your student get a student credit card?
Do you have to or will you co-sign for their credit card?
What will the credit card by used for?
Who is responsible for paying the monthly bill?
Will it be used only for emergencies?
In our house, we will get our boys a student credit card with a very small limit (say $500). We believe giving them this small step to adulthood and financial responsibility is important.
For years they have managed a debit card, which we have watched over carefully. Getting a credit card is the next obvious step and one that will help them with earning credit, something not a lot of parents or students think about at this age. Speaking of credit cards, finance and who is responsible for what is another very important conversation to have with your student. Will they open a bank account on campus for getting money and depositing paychecks in? Are they responsible for their spending money, and what is a goal or a reasonable amount that they will need? Will you deposit money into the account and what will you in fact pay for? Discussing budgets and what costs they will incur is part of the whole discussion.
For those students who live far away from school, this next topic is not as important. However, for those
living close enough to come home often, a discussion about how often returning home is reasonable and expected. Some students come home every weekend to see old friends who are still at home. Others come home for weekend jobs and even others come home because that is where they feel more comfortable and where they want to spend their time. There is no wrong or right answer to this;
however, parents may have a thought about this that completely contradicts what their student is thinking. A conversation about visiting is a must for these families.
The topic that parents tend to discuss the least is the topic of sex. Unfortunately many families do not feel comfortable discussing this topic and often parents would rather not think their child will be participating in this activity. Please, don’t miss out on this opportunity to talk with your student about being safe and respectful. Some parents will provide students with birth control while others will discuss their desire for complete abstinence. Whatever it may be, having an open and honest conversation can go a long way.
Although there are a dozen more topics to discuss but another very important one is to lay out the expectations for when your student comes home for vacation. I am sure most of you have heard the moans and groans of parents whose children came home for Thanksgiving and within days; these parents wanted them to return to school. It is a hard adjustment for all involved, parents, siblings and the returning prodigal child. Try to discuss the issues that may arise (curfew, rules, respect, communication etc.) beforehand so that miscommunication and hurt feelings are limited. Agree on
time spent with family versus time spent with friends. Explain that younger siblings and relatives will
want their fair share of their attention and there are a certain amount of family obligations that they are
expected to be present at.
As promised there are also more things on the to-do list for these college bound students to cross off
their list. Here is a brief explanation and list.
I know this is a long blog but there is much to share. I will end this series next month with my last “Need
to Know” items for our little cherubs.