Have a son or daughter off at college, and anxious to know they're doing okay? Here's a few things to keep in mind to help you stay informed.
Shift the conversation
One of the biggest challenges for parents after their kids leave for college is finding the right balance in communication. The best way to stay informed is from your kid directly - and here's two tricks to help smooth that conversation.
1. Try discussing things going on back home. Sharing information first opens the door for reciprocity, and makes a conversation flow more easily.
2. Validate your student's experience instead of using judgment phrasing. If your student confesses being stressed out about a test, some parents might rightly point out that the student could have better prepared. But by simply validating the stress instead of trying to "fix" it, you'll keep your student from going on defense, and keep the communication channel open.
Both of these techniques are employed by trained listeners, from psychologists to FBI interrogators.
Use social media
While "cyber-stalking" your student is never a good idea, there are some ways to stay in the know about what's going on in their lives.
1. Keep up a weekly email exchange with your student. More than a week may be a bit too much work, but one email a week isn't too much to ask, and will leave room for a summary of events.
2. Follow the school's Twitter and Facebook pages. A lot of colleges have social media accounts for events at the school, and residential activities. Following these accounts will let you know when there are going to be concerts or other interesting things happening on campus, which creates the opportunity for informed (but not invasive) questions.
One of the best ways to stay informed without seeming like a helicopter parent is to use a solution designed exactly for that.
SnugNote makes it extremely easy for your student to check in each night with reminders and a 5 second check-in. It sends you a report each morning that lets you know your student got home safe, but keeps the time they check-in secret, so that you can have peace of mind without your student feeling like they are giving up their privacy.
Article written by Josh Lovison