MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is move-in time for many colleges, and this is the first time living away from home for many students.
If you are a parent, you may also be anxious and worried about whether or not your child is ready to be on their own.
Experts say you should begin preparing them well before their senior year, and there are ways you can help.
It is an emotional time for the O’Malley family.
“I think I’m more excited than nervous,” said mother Kris O’Malley.
They will celebrate the day their oldest, Gram, was born on the same weekend he leaves home for college.
“I’m excited first off. I mean, I think everybody is. But at the same time, I’m a little nervous because I’m living on my own for nine months,” Gram O’Malley said.
But is your child ready to make this transition? Psychotherapist Kirsten Lind Seal believes a key indicator is personal responsibility.
“When kids go off to college, they’re starting to get into a portion of life that family scientists call ‘emerging adulthood,’” Lind Seal said. “Like, can they get themselves out of bed with an alarm on their own, right? … Are they, you know, taking showers and brushing their teeth and doing that kind of thing [laughs], which may seem sort of elemental, but some kids are just like, ‘Nah, not so interested in that.’”
Lind Seal advises pulling back. Let your child be accountable for actions and face natural consequences.
“Say you give them space around grades or something, and all of a sudden they miss a couple of assignments, that’s going to be their message they better step it up,” Kris O’Malley said.
By your child’s junior year, he or she should be taking academic responsibility.
“A teenager who is paying attention to his homework, you know, making sure that she getting her assignments on time, making sure she knows when to study for her tests, that’s a teenager that even if her grades aren’t spectacular, she or he, they are in charge of their own academics.”
Kris O’Malley saw her son take that turn his sophomore year.
“He’s got an innate sense of competitiveness, and he pivoted towards academics and being competitive in academics, and he excelled in it,” she said.
Then there is ownership of life tasks: being organized, meeting deadlines, filling out forms. Let your child manage on their own.
“Being able to have a conversation with your child about that and saying, ‘You know, this is yours now,” Lind Seal said. “If he needs to take out loans, these loans are, you know, your responsibility, or here’s this part of it that’s your responsibility.”
Lind Seal says do the best you can do, but do not overdo.
“So there’s a piece around having faith that you gave your kids the tools and the skills that they need to do well, but you have to then take a breath and let them practice,” she said.
Kris O’Malley says her son is ready, and she is “kind of ready.”
“It’s just time for the adventure to begin,” she said.
So, when should you start pulling back? Lind Seal says every child is different, but having conversations about their responsibilities can start as early as 10.