My oldest son has been married and has lived in New England for years, but this year I lost another child to adulthood. This has definitely grayed my hair more, as it was my daughter growing up and moving out. Daughters are just different. Transitioning from being the parent of a teen to the parent of an adult presented many challenges with Sarah. Put it this way…my vacation this year was a week spent in Savannah, Georgia, moving her into Savannah College of Art and Design, an elite art school on the coast of Georgia. Not a bad place to vacation.
When I moved her to Savannah, however, I thought she was an adult and would handle things on her own. Little did I know! The cord was not entirely cut!
Through this experience with my daughter, I learned the following necessary skills a successful college student needs in his/her “toolbelt” in order to truly be successful:
Genuine Problem Solving Skills
Yes, teachers attempt to instill this in their students. However, ultimately, parents can instill this skill more effectively through real life problems, such as grocery shopping and making money stretch. I have heard stories of college kids stressing out over long dining hall lines. My daughter’s retort: “Go at another time!
- Clothes washing—Some adult children do not know how to wash their own clothes! I cannot imagine! This is a must in our household from the beginning of high school.
- Basic cleaning skills—Some college students and their parents think that the college has a cleaning service. NOT! There’s no more Mommy picking up after little Johnny. I have a 16-year-old son, whose room will truly make you gag at times; he’s a wrestler, so his clothes can stink up the room quick! His room is his responsibility, though, and he cleans it. My children have chores as soon as they are old enough to understand. A home is a place where everyone has responsibilities. Even my son cleans dishes by hand! One day he will make a great roommate and an awesome husband!
- Budgeting—This is a skill I am working on with my daughter. She is not horrible at this, but she can definitely use some coaching. Some college kids think that money will just fall into their laps. Thankfully, my daughter has had jobs and has been given financial responsibilities. One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is responsibility. If they grow up with everything being handed to them, they will think that’s how life works. WAKEUP CALL! It’s not! When our kids get cars, they each pay a certain amount monthly, in order to keep the car. When my son has traveled to national competitions, he has raised the funds himself through sponsorships. I never made a call for him.
- Time Managements Skills—We all wish we had more time in the day. Time management can make or break a college student. If a student is not accustomed to managing events on his/her own, managing classes, studying, washing clothes, and just normal day to day activities can become overwhelming. Let’s face it: it’s their first time away from home, and they just don’t know what to do with themselves! FREEDOM, they scream! We did it when we first went away from home. Naturally, our kids will too. Managing time can be as simple as using the calendar app on a smartphone.
- Basic Health Knowledge— Amidst getting used to freedom away from their parents, college students often lose sight of taking care of their health. I sent Sarah to college with multivitamins; we restock every time she comes home. Vitamins ward off lots of illnesses that are passed around in communal living- quarters like college dorms. When do you go to the emergency room? Not every illness requires a costly ER visit. I stock my daughter up on the normal over the counter meds: Ibuprofen, allergy tablets, antacid, etc. A bad case of indigestion can be solved easily and less expensively with antacid than with an ER visit.
Each of these points seems like common sense and that our kids will just figure it out. However, they don’t! Parents are entrusted with preparing their kids to live as successful, thriving adults. Each of these skills, that are easily taught and reinforced from a young age, can prevent lots of heartache and stress.
Here’s to all the moms, helping their college kids excel!
All the best,
Song of Sapelo Sunset
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