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Parenting Your Child in College

Pay Attention to Signs of Trouble

If your child suddenly has a big change in personality -- for instance, if a very social kid starts spending a lot of time alone -- that could be something to talk with him about. IS he doing OK? How are his grades? IS he partying a lot, sleeping too much, or showing any other signs that concern you?

If so, encourage your child to go to the student counseling office. If your child is living in a dorm with an RA (resident advisor), you could get in touch with the RA for feedback. Also, consider visiting the campus to check on your child in person.

Talk About Visits in Advance

When college kids return home for holidays or vacations, they expect to have more freedom than they did in high school. It’s best to talk with your college student ahead of time about your household rules.

“Discuss your expectations about things like their curfew, doing their laundry, and keeping their room clean,” Breuner says.

During their visits, expect she will want to spend time with her friends. Talk with your child in advance about which family dinners and gatherings you want her to attend. “If you negotiate about it before they come home, it can prevent hurt feelings,” Kastner says.

Show your child the same respect. If you're coming to visit her at college, talk to her in advance. Don't just show up at the dorm room or apartment unless you are truly concerned.

Enjoy the New Relationship

Some parents have a hard time letting go of the role they had when their child was in high school. Instead, you could embrace the rewards of your new role.

“It's fun to watch your child become an adult and to pat yourself on the back for a job well done,” Reiter says.

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Reviewed on October 29, 2013

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