University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
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The transition from home to college.


What Do You Expect?
Having realistic expectations will facilitate the adjustment YOU need to make as well as that of your son or daughter.

The Stress of Change
Your family is losing a bird from the nest and things will never be the same. This dramatic change is stressful. How will YOU cope with it?

Adult - To - Adult Interaction
For the past 18 years, the interaction between you and your student had been that of a parent to a child. That interaction pattern now dramatically shifts. And the sooner the better. Parents now need to learn how to relate to their college bound "child" as an adult. Meanwhile, your grown "child" needs to learn how to relate to you in an adult-to-adult interaction pattern. Both parents and freshman need to communicate frequently, directly and openly with each other in order to facilitate this aspect of the family's developmental learning process.

Letting Go
Parents typically have difficulty "letting go" of their offspring. But to not do so indicates that they do not trust their son's or daughter's ability to make wise choices about a wide range of social and academic issues and their ability to be held accountable for those choices. Let go! Mistakes will be made, but valuable lessons will be learned from the consequences they experience as a direct result of their choices. This is all a necessary part to their developmental process! If you experience difficulty with "letting go," you may be a "helicopter parent". Click here for a definition and self-assessment of that problematic parenting style.

Final Notes
Keep the lines of communication open. By all means continue to offer your thoughts and opinions to your student, but do so with the attitude and tone of voice that you would use with another adult. It will take some time and practice for you to learn how to relate in this manner to your own "child!" It is likely that they will make an unwise social or academic choice or two and experience a negative consequence as a result. They have a lot to learn about how to manage the responsibility that accompanies their newly gained freedom. All of this may result in tension and conflict in your relationship. Learning how to resolve conflicts in a constructive (as opposed to a "destructive") adult-to-adult manner is a crucial part of their learning process with you. That is where your years of experience and skills in dealing with conflict will be essential. So be prepared to engage this process with a proper attitude! Be patient!


Last Reviewed: December 19, 2007