Have you had that late night phone call from your child yet?
Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who escapes this. But for many parents across the land, they are hearing their child’s agonising sobs down the phone – explaining how miserable they are with being a student – predominantly with being away from home.
As a parent this is a nightmare. Hearing your child, miserable and bereft of happiness; pleading with you, in-between the snotty sniffs, to be allowed to come home.
Well, first of all – let me tell you that this is totally normal.
They are not weird and unpopular. This is what happens for many teenagers starting university life.
They are just taking time to adjust.
So what do you do?
First of all, give them the time to vent. Let them tell you how they are feeling; letting you know that life is not quite what they expected. Sometimes, all they need to do is it express their fears and anxieties and then, with a bit of reassurance from you, they are better equipped to face the music again.
However – for some young people they have already made up their minds that ‘this is not for them’ and that they need to come home – NOW.
Truth Bomb Time …
Do NOT give in to their demands.
At least do not give in right away. This is normal behaviour. So let’s look at the situation…
Very often – this might be the first time that your child has experienced such feelings of ‘isolation’. They have been used to living at home, with all their creature comforts; their friends at their beck-and-call to help them chat about stuff … and now – they are thrown into an environment where they feel totally alone and with no-one to turn to – and this can feel scary. So the fastest solution is to RUN!
UNDERSTAND what exactly is going on.
They are out of their depth, and in the past they have turned to you for help – and you were always there. This is no different. But from now on it’s different.
“The task of adolescence is not to sever the closeness, but to alter it.”
~~ Terri Apter ~~
Your child needs to know that you will ALWAYS support them. But they are embarking on an exciting journey of independence and exploration. This opportunity of university life – is just that … An Opportunity; and squandering it so early on would be a real shame.
Helpful Tips for Parents.
- Freshers Week can be a real struggle. It is alcohol fuelled and the kids have very little sleep – all of which lends itself to exhaustion, paranoia and stress.
- Children – and that’s what they still are, to an extent – need Routine. For the best part of their childhood their time has been managed. Once lectures start, they will have their routine again. That framework will shape their week. Routine provides familiarity, reassurance and the consistency that they are used to.
- They will not be crying every minute of the day ( hopefully ). They will be sharing time with other students – and meeting loads of different people – within halls, their flat and their course, the clubs, the canteen … allover!
Perhaps this blogpost will also help : New Students : You Will Find Your Tribe.
- The university will have fantastic Support Services available for those students who are finding it harder to settle in. Suggest to your child that they go to the student union and seek these people out.
- The University has loads ( and I mean loads ) of Clubs and Societies for your child to try out. From the Real Ale Society to the Ramblers Club. From the Chess Club to the Chocolate Appreciation Society (catch my drift?) These clubs arrange fun activities so that your child is both occupied and feels part of something.
REMEMBER the long term goal.
- What is your child at university for?
- Why are they studying this particular course?
- Why did they want to go there in the first place?
Help them to refocus. Help them to realign what’s going on and give them something to strive for. After all, this was, I am assuming, their choice to go in the first place.
Here’s the RESILIENCE chat.
Life throws us curve balls. We do not learn and grow – if someone sorts our problems out for us. We NEED those learnings for ourselves – and your child is no different.
“Don’t give up.
if it were easy,
everyone would do it.”
When we face stumbling blocks and overcome them, it gives us the internal strength to tackle new challenges. When we succeed, our confidence grows, our self esteem reaches new heights. All this is relevant to your child – right here, right now.
Put something in the diary that they can look forward to. Give them a goal. Perhaps it’s going to be a visit from you. Maybe they can invite a friend over to stay the weekend. Maybe it’s a trip home. You will know what is the best solution for your child.
But by not backing down – and staying ‘strong’ – they will build their resilience to cope with other, and often larger obstacles that will, inevitably, block their path in the future.
Each child is different.
“ Sometimes the hardest thing – and the right thing – are the same.”
You will know – deep down what your child really needs. But try – if you can – to put emotion aside. Take the action that is in your child’s best interests.
If you truly believe that they need to come home – then let them. Maybe they need to chat stuff over with you and sit on the sofa with the dog for a day or so. However, returning, may make the separation even more testing.
If they just need to hug you – then take their favourite *lasagne (*other meal-time favourites are available) over and visit them for the day.
Perhaps they just need a daily call just before they go to bed – oftentimes it’s when they are alone that the feelings of overwhelm hit the hardest.
Whatever, your course of action, do understand, that this is part of their journey of independence and they will get through this – and so will you x
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