As he leaves the nest, you hope your college-bound teen remembers everything you’ve taught him, makes good choices and achieves great success in his studies. You might wonder if there’s anything you should’ve done differently. You might fear there’s something you should’ve told him that you didn’t.
Don't Let Fear "The Talk"
To deter some of these worries, make sure you cover these three essential topics with your teen before you drop him at the dorm. It'll make both of you feel a lot better and establish an "adult" line of communication that's essential for a healthy relationship between parents and their college-bound children.
Conversation #1 Drug and Alcohol Use
Have you talked with him about drug and alcohol use? If he’s like most young adults, he’s probably already experimented with them at some point. However, that doesn’t lessen the importance of this conversation.
College is a time when adolescents use their newfound freedom to increase experimentation with substances. Talk to him about the risks of drinking and drug use. Discuss how these activities often lead to life-threatening situations. Guide him in how to make smart choices.
Many students are prescribed drugs for depression, anxiety, ADHD and other conditions. Be clear about the dangers of mixing these drugs with alcohol or sharing drugs with friends. He needs to understand that these actions can be lethal.
Conversation #2 Healthcare
The college years can be an awkward time of transition for your child’s health. He might feel his “adult” status requires taking care of his own issues, but he’s still covered by your health insurance. This puts him in an uncomfortable spot, torn between asking to see a doctor and maintaining his privacy. He might also be reluctant to bring up any concerns for fear of being pulled out of school.
Have a brutally honest conversation. Ask if he has any concerns about his health, health insurance or future needs while in school. Let him know it’s okay to see a doctor or therapist. Discuss any medications he’s taking to keep the lines of communication open about any changes in prescriptions. With a better handle on these issues, he’s more likely to seek out better health care throughout college.
Conversation #3 Good Influences
For many students, college is their first opportunity to explore all-new peer groups and relationships. This is a time of discovering who they want to be and with whom they want to associate.
It’s easy to fall in the wrong crowd - or with no crowd at all. At larger universities, it’s especially easy to become isolated and vulnerable. Encourage him to find classmates who are positive influences and engage in healthy activities. Discuss spending time with people active in community groups, internships and other positive organizations.
In addition to friends, mentors are an important connection point for your college student. Students do better both academically and socially when they foster relationships with faculty and staff. These connections provide support during college and lead to greater academic and employment opportunities down the road.
With these important conversations complete, you can rest easier knowing he has a few more essentials packed for his journey.
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