Proactively Parenting College Kids

By Joey and Carla Link

September 7, 2022

When your kids go off to college, one of the biggest issues they face is how other kids have been raised, and the different opinions and beliefs they have from your kids. In today’s culture, studies show there is almost no difference between the value system of non-believers and believers, so please don’t assume if your kids go to a Christian University all will be well when it comes to associating and making friends with the other students there.

Your young adult will find a distinct difference of beliefs between how you taught him/her to live out his faith and how others choose to live their lives. Your kids are being influenced by another peer, or a group of kids to go along with what is called “group think” or peer pressure.

This “group think” will come out in their conversations with you. Don’t panic. Listen and ask questions to get them to see the truth of God vs. what they are hearing.

I remember when I (Joey) went to college It was a new freedom which opened the windows of my mind to a whole new world of activities as well as thoughts and the influences of others. It’s difficult for parents to prepare kids for every circumstance and situation that could come their way as they go away to college or simply move out of your house. But there are a few proactive things parents can do

1. Keep the relationship door open by not judging what your kids are doing. Text them and remind them how much you love them and how proud you are of the choices they have made in life. This is not the time to guilt them into compliance with your opinion, but to encourage them to continue living their life God’s way.

2. Set up weekly phone/face time calls with the family to stay in touch. Ask your kids when a good time is to have these calls so you can hear what they are doing and how they are enjoying college life. This is a great way for them to stay in touch with their siblings.

At this point in their life, you should have backed away from controlling what they do by your authority and moving to be more of a guidance counselor and advisor. They may start doing things you don’t want them to do, but they will have to learn to make many of those choices and decisions on their own. You just want to keep open doors of communication to be able to love them and influence their life for Christ. 

3. Set up times when you will see them again before the holidays come and they get invited elsewhere. The first few months of college life will be challenging to your kids. You don’t want to over-burden them with your expectations yet they need to know you and their siblings miss them and can’t wait to see them again

4. Ask if they would like to have a devotion time with you once a week. You can do anything now with Zoom. We have good friends who have 10 grandchildren, most of them in college. They have a time of Bible Study/Devotions with each of them, one-on-one weekly. What a legacy they are passing on!

5. Wait for them to ask you for advice vs. you telling them what they should and should not be doing. This is a big transition for parents, but a necessary one. Your kids want to be independent. They will come to you more readily if you aren’t always giving them unsolicited advice. When one of our kids would be going on about something, I would say “Are you asking for my advice?” They would sometimes say they were and sometimes they would say “No”, I’m just talking it through. 

6. PRAY that God will guide them and put a hedge of protection around them (Job 1:10) to make wise choices in all they do and say to bring honor and glory to the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31