Be Thankful You’re the Parent of a College Student

You don’t have to be grateful for the tuition bill, but you should be for everything else.

By Anne Vaccaro Brady

As the mom of a recent college grad and a current college junior, I’ve learned about all the wonderful aspects of having a college student. To be honest, my appreciation for some of these things took time to evolve. Read on to find out why you should say thanks, too.

The opportunity to watch our kids mature and find their way Whether your college student is living at home or in a dorm, this is her time to learn how to take care of herself. Yes, even commuter students should do their own laundry. Stepping back and advising, but not doing, can be tough for us as parents. The results, though, are well worth the stress.

Watching your college student make her own decisions, find help from the experienced support staff on her campus and taking her first steps toward a plan for her future can only be described as priceless. Kids grow up, some quicker than others, but this is how they get there.

Maryland Terrapins beat Wake Forest - College ...

(Photo credit: Mrs. Gemstone)

College towns are fun Take advantage of the fact that once or twice a year your son  may be more than happy to play the tour guide (another sign of his budding maturity). Enjoy the chance to discover interesting restaurants; explore new museums, sporting events and entertainment; and shop at stores you never heard of—together. Use a weekend visit as a mini-vacation, one where you will likely come back poorer, but happier and refreshed.

College students have their own ideas Even if your child shared many of your views throughout high school, now she’s thinking differently. She’s figured out that Mom and Dad aren’t right about everything. Celebrate the fact that she’s  formulating her own opinions. Who knows, she may change your mind on a subject or two.

Mom and Dad have learned how to Skype, FaceTime and read cryptic texts If you want to keep in touch with your kid, you have to use his technology. It’s not so bad, once you get the hang of it. Be thankful he wants to communicate with you. Eventually you’ll wonder how you ever lived without your smartphone, webcam and social media.

Missing each other is a good thing After surviving the angsty high school years, a little distance helps you and your college student develop a new appreciation for each other.  The rolling eyes, the last-minute plans, the complaints about too much homework, etc. give way to an acknowledgement that you were right about packing all that underwear, your kitchen serves better food than the dining hall and oh yeah, she should’ve listened when you said not to leave her homework to the end of the semester. In the beginning, you’ll find that you miss that messy room, playing taxi and keeping her schedule, but only for a little while.

College and kindergarten are similar For parents, we have that same role of letting go as we watch our children step out of their comfort zone and make new friends again. It can be tough for them to venture out beyond any familiar faces from high school that might be on their campus. Be happy when they find a study partner from class, join a team or club, or talk about hanging out with the kids in the dorm. The college experience goes beyond just earning a degree; it involves developing social skills, as well.

As hard as it is to send our kids onto the next stage of their lives, the best way to get through it is to find the positives in the experience. There are many.

If you have additional reasons to be grateful for parenting a college student, please share them in the comments section below.

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4 Responses to Be Thankful You’re the Parent of a College Student

  1. I am so grateful for all of the things you mentioned. It is so wonderful so see them moving forward even with hiccups and set backs. Facetime is a new and wonderful addition to our lives.

    • Watching our kids respond to their mistakes and unexpected roadblocks, while hard, shows us how they’ll respond to the challenges life will continue to bring them. College is such a good training ground for these things.

  2. Great post! I just said goodbye to my freshman daughter (again), as she headed back to school after Thanksgiving break, and I found myself so sad again. And yet, many of the things you listed above came into my mind and I worked my way back to a place gratitude. Thanks for this reminder!

  3. Glad it helped. I use them too each time I send my kids back to school.

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