How to Help
As a parent you did a number of things to help your child become more independent and ready to first go off to school. You may have wanted to make sure that they knew how to get their winter coats and boots on, or to tie their own shoe laces. Much the same as then, there are skills that will help your child be successful in navigating this new chapter of their life. Ensuring they know how to do their own laundry, prepare a few meals, create and stay on a budget as well as time manage their activities of daily living will greatly improve their autonomy and ability to cope during this time of change.
Sometimes it can take time to shift boundaries and transition into a new way of interacting once your child is no longer at home. There is often a struggle between trying to assert independence on the child's end and wanting to maintain support and some control for the parents. This can lead to challenging communication as both parties are trying to have their needs met. Parents have found this transition easier when they keep the following in mind:
- Try to avoid detail oriented questions about your child's day; instead use general questions. Example -- "how are you handling the course load" vs. "how many hours did you spend on homework yesterday?".
- When your child comes to you for advice, ask their thoughts before providing your input and then ultimately let them make their choice. Even if they make the wrong choice, it will be much more valuable to them to go through the experience and learn.
- Understand that your child may be exposed to many diverse ideas and ways of living. You may find that this causes your child to explore different philosophies of life throughout their time at university. Parents sometimes find this challenging but it is important to try to be open and understand that young people often move away from their family values during this time but generally gravitate back as they develop.
- When your child comes home to visit or to live between semesters, it can often be a challenge to renegotiate rules and expectations. Many students find it frustrating that their parents expect them to manage themselves independently for weeks at a time while at school only to expect they will adhere to the same controls that they had in high school when they are back home."
- You can expect that your child may develop some homesickness or get down from time to time. Encourage them to get involved with activities and people at the campus and to spend some weekends as well as weekdays here. Some students fall into a negative pattern of returning home each weekend to be with friends. As time goes on they feel depressed on Sundays when it is time to return to the school. In essence they have turned Queen's into nothing but a work place, while all the fun takes place somewhere else. Encourage your child to join a club, go to an event, meet regularly with others to work out or study together because these activities are bridges into the community.
Should your child require some additional support, students do not have to pay for counselling and it is completely confidential (counselling records are kept separate from other University records). This also means that without a release of information signed by your son/daughter, the counsellor will not be able to reveal information to you about your child's appointments.
Queen's works from a brief counselling framework and for this reason if your child requires more ongoing support we may work the your child to find more appropriate support with one of our community resources. There are some lower cost services but in general community counselling is not free. If your family has coverage for counselling services, it can be helpful to talk with your child about this so that they can let their Queen's counsellor know which kind of service is covered."
If you think your child could use our service, you can help by letting them know how to make an appointment (see appointments). Experience has shown us that it is better if students make the appointment themselves. You can also reassure them that lots of students have found it helpful to talk with someone who is knowledgeable and objective. If you can, help them see that using the resources that are available when they are needed is a sign of strength not weakness. Again, after they have seen a counsellor a general question like "How did it go?" is a door opener that will encourage them to share with you while respecting their right for privacy.