Especially for Parents and Families

The college years can present unique challenges for students and their parents. Below you will find information about:

Understanding the Transition to College* 

Often overlooked is the fact that the college experience is a significant transition for the parents of college students, too. As parents, you may experience feelings of happiness, excitement, and pride when your children leave for college. At the same time, you may feel a sense of sadness and pain and have many understandable fears and concerns about your children’s future and well-being. You may worry about your children’s safety and ability to care effectively for themselves. You may fear “losing” your children as they begin to function more independently and forms deep attachments with peers. You may be concerned about how your children will deal with choices and temptations they face. You may also wonder how your children’s performance in college will reflect on you as the parent.

Here are some ways you might support your children:

  • Maintaining a supportive relationship with them can be critical, particularly during their first year of college. If you and your children were not particularly close prior to their leaving home, it is still important for you to convey your support.
  • Let your children know that you respect and support their right to make independent decisions and that you will serve as an advocate and an advisor when asked.
  • Be realistic and specific with your children about financial issues, including what you will and will not pay for, as well as your expectations for how they will spend money.
  • Help your children set reasonable academic goals; and encourage them to seek academic assistance when needed.
  • Refrain from burdening your children with problems from home they have no control over and can do nothing about. Sharing these problems with your children may cause them to worry excessively and even feel guilty that they are away from home and unable to help.
  • Find out contact information for people involved in the various aspects of your children’s college experience. If you have questions, or if a particular problem arises, call the appropriate person, but make sure to involve your children in a collaborative effort to address the problem. Here are resources you may consider contacting at ACU:

Here are some ways you might support yourself: 

  • Recognize that it is normal to have mixed feelings when your children leave home. 
  • Do your best to develop and maintain your own social support. 
  • Do your best to maintain your own sense of well-being.
Services Provided by the ACU Counseling Center 

Students seek counseling for a variety of reasons. Normally these problems are relatively temporary and students recover fairly quickly; however, if the intensity or persistence of any of the problems makes it hard for your student to function effectively, or if your student is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, it is advisable to encourage your student to come to the Counseling Center right away. It usually works best to allow your son or daughter to take the initiative in accessing our services—if you are the one who calls and makes an appointment, your son or daughter may be less likely to follow through.

Confidentiality and Parents 

Confidentiality is an essential part of any counseling relationship. The Counseling Center staff adheres to the ethical standards of their respective professions and to state and federal laws relating to confidentiality. These standards and laws prevent us from speaking with concerned parents about their student’s contact with the Center unless we have the student’s written permission. Thus, unless your student gives us written permission, we cannot acknowledge whether your student has been seen at the Center or is making progress in counseling. The only exceptions occur when a student is under 17.5 years of age, when we are concerned that a student is clearly and imminently suicidal, when we learn of ongoing child abuse, or when we are ordered to release confidential information by a court of law.

Even if your student doesn’t give his or her counselor permission to provide information to you, you may choose to contact a counselor to share your concerns. Such contact may make sense, for example, if you are concerned that your student is in serious danger. Note, however, that the counselor will not be able to even acknowledge knowing your student, and that the counselor will want to discuss any information you provide with your student.

Contact the Director 

Please contact Steve Rowlands, director of the Counseling Center, if you have any questions.

325-674-2626 or rowlandss@acu.edu

*Used by permission from Hobart and William Smith Colleges Counseling Center

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