In the final part of our Parents’ Guide series, a Choices adviser looks at the initial period following your son or daughter starting their University course.
This is a time of adjustment for both you as a parent and your son or daughter. The silence at home will be an unusual sensation; the reduced need for ‘Dad’s/ Mum’s Cabs’ feels strange and you may be surprised at how much cheaper the weekly food shopping has suddenly become.
Your son or daughter may become homesick at some point. Being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people can be very unsettling. This is a totally normal and natural reaction by some students when they first join university. Acknowledge any concerns they have and be supportive, but try not to reinforce homesickness by encouraging them to return home at weekends – this will only serve to make them feel more isolated from university life. Part of the transition to university life away from home is a journey of self discovery, development and independence and it takes time to establish.
Remember that this is an exciting time in their life and help them to make the most out of it. As well as academic development, it’s about learning to make the most of available opportunities and building confidence, maturity and social skills. With the right positive support and reassurance, you can help them reach their potential.
Once upon a time, I was that homesick student and my parents were in the position some of you find yourself in today. Their encouragement and support allowed me to experience three fantastic years at university, meet some amazing people who I’m still in touch with today and learn an awful lot about myself. Last, but certainly not least, they helped me to achieve my bachelors degree.
I’ve never forgotten the support my parents gave me during this time and it proved to me that, whilst keeping a watchful eye at a distance, their allowing me to flourish on my own was one of the greatest gifts they gave me. I hope that, beyond the odd silence and less noisy home, you’ll learn to adapt to the next phase of your son or daughter’s life as my parents did.