Your Child Is Off to College!

By Joey & Carla Link

August 2, 2023

It just seemed like yesterday you were planning a graduation party for your high school senior and now they are leaving for college. Parents have mixed reactions when this happens. If your child is going away to school and will no longer be living at home, the entire family dynamic is changing and will not go back to what has been “normal”. While it is hard to understand at first, your young adult will probably never live full-time at home again. I remember when one of our daughters, a freshman in college, wanted to know over the Thanksgiving holiday why she had to do dishes while she was at home. She needed down-time from the busyness of being away at school. I am sure you can imagine my reaction.

 We are often asked what parents should know when their kids are 19-22 years, usually the time they are at their university working on a college degree. Here are some things we have come up with.

Tips for Parenting College-Age Kids

  1. You should not have to use your authority much at all. If you are having an issue with one of your kids, set him/her down and ask him how he thinks it should be resolved, and if he needs accountability to stay on track in this area. In making them think through how to resolve an issue, you are teaching them to be confident in their ability to do it themselves.
  2. Do use authority if you have to.
  3. Pick your battles. If your daughter hasn’t kept her room clean in all the years you have been training her to be responsible, she is not going to keep her dorm room clean. Let it go and by that we mean don’t say anything sarcastic about it when you visit him/her. We did warn her roommates at the start of the year that our daughter was sloppy. On a visit later in the year they showed us a box they kept by the door to their room. Our daughter had 3 roommates that year and they told us whenever they found something of hers laying around they put it in the box. We laughed and told them we put her things in a pile on the stairs going to her room!
  4. If you don’t have the book “What Every Child Should Know Along the Way”, get it at our online bookstore. It will tell you the skills your kids should have before leaving home, such as home management skills and taking care of vehicles. You can work on these things over the summer breaks. 
  5. Make sure your kids know how to study, especially if you homeschooled them. This is one of the main reasons homeschooled kids don’t make it in college. They don’t know how to manage their time, study or write a term paper. If these skills aren’t your strong suit, get them a tutor.
  6. Do a Bible Study with them when they are home on long breaks. We did one individually with each of our kids from the time they turned 13. It is a wonderful time to hear their hearts.
  7. Get good books for them to read. You never know when they will pick them up and read them. I always give books for graduation gifts and you would be surprised how many who get them contact us a couple years later and let us know they just read it and how meaningful it was. 

 -Paul Little has 2 excellent books titled “Know What You Believe” and “Know Why You Believe”. Paul was on staff for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I heard him speak in college, the year before he was killed in an accident. I haven’t found better books than this to help young adults solidify their faith as they are being confronted with worldliness and other religions.  They are written for college kids/young adults.

-Leslie Ludy has a wonderful, biblically sound publication that comes out once a quarter titled “Set Apart”. Give your young adult daughter a subscription for Christmas.

8.Teach them how to find a good church. Each week when we talked to our college kids we asked them what they had learned in church that Sunday. We had asked them this question for many years at lunch on Sunday so they expected it.

9.If you don’t have Joey’s CD/workbooks on dating we highly recommend you get it(click here). You want to make sure they have a dating foundation that will see them through.

10.Remember they won’t be your peers until you are no longer responsible for them financially.

11.When it comes to finances, make sure they understand how to budget, how to use a credit card, and so forth. You should start working on this with your kids well before they get to their teen years, but if you haven’t, make it a priority to do on Christmas break. 

The more you talk about these things before it is time for them to go away to school, the more you and they will be prepared for them to live independently.

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

Proverbs 22:3