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Starting college is a big transition for you and your adult child. Attending college is often the first and most intense separation in your relationship that may involve changes in physical location as well as in identity. Students are typically struggling to define themselves while their parents are adjusting to being less involved in their adult children’s lives. Adjusting to a new degree of independence from one another is part of negotiating a more mature relationship, characteristic of adult responsibility, goal setting, and decision-making. Your adult child needs to develop judgment and self-care skills as you learn to decrease control and develop trust in your adult child’s choices. Below you will find some helpful tips to guide you through this transition. Please also see our page on Coping Strategies for parents.

Strategies to Help Your Adult Child

Keep Lines of Communication Open 

  • Stay in touch
  • Show interest
  • Be a good listener
  • Have an open mind
  • Be encouraging
  • Don’t push  

Encourage Independence and Responsibility

  • Learn to provide support and a listening ear but don’t try to control their lives via long distance...or short distance!
  • Encourage independent thinking. Help them sort out their thinking process and avoid making decisions for them.

Respect Boundaries

  • It might not be the best idea to just show up at your adult child’s residence hall room on a Friday afternoon. Always call first and arrange time to visit them in their new home.
  • Try to keep a balance between consistent contact with your adult child and demanding an email every day or phone call three times a week.

Be Realistic

  • Beginning a college career can bring many academic challenges. Be realistic about your expectations of grades and achievement.
  • Discuss your adult child’s new financial responsibilities. Establish limits and guidelines that fit your needs and encourage responsibility. 
  • Keep your adult child informed about what is happening with family and the community.  Students typically appreciate it when parents communicate this information and often resent it when parents withhold unhappy news, such as a family illness or the death of a grandparent, in order to not upset them.
  • Students love to receive a touch of home.  Send “care packages” but don’t send cash!
  • It is important to make the most of home visits and to maintain a space for your adult child when she/he comes home.

Be Flexible

  • Allow some room for growth.  Your adult child’s expectations and needs will be changing, and your expectations will need to change accordingly. 

Be Informed

  • Know the campus resources and encourage your adult child to take advantage of the services available to him/her.
  • Check out the RU webpage for parents:  Parents


The Counseling Center staff can provide limited consultation with parents. There may be times when you may feel unsure about how to approach certain issues with or be helpful to your adult child.  If your adult child has a history of mental health issues, is currently taking medication, or you think that they may benefit from long term support during their years at Roosevelt, the staff can help you locate resources in the community.  Feel free to contact us at 312-341-3548 to arrange a consultation.

We are not able to talk with parents in any way about their son’s or daughter’s participation in counseling without the student’s written consent for release of information.  Confidentiality is a very important part of the therapy relationship we establish with students.  We adhere to the guidelines about confidentiality in therapeutic services as mandated by federal and state laws, as well as those established by our licensing board.

Online Resources:

Literary Resources:

  • When Your Kids Go to College: A Parents' Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
  • You're on Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Helen E. Johnson
  • Been There, Should've Done That II: More Tips for Making the Most of College by Suzette Tyler 
  • She's Leaving Home -- Letting Go As a Daughter Goes to College by Connie Jones
  • Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understand the College Years, Fifth Edition by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Teeger
  • Give Them Wings by Carol Kuykendall
  • Empty Nest, Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by Andrea Van Steerhouse
  • How to Survive and Thrive in an Empty Nest: Reclaiming Your Life when Your Children Have Grown by Janette C. Lauer
  • Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College by Patricia Pasick
  • Becoming a Wise Parent for Your Grown Child: How to Give Love and Support Without Meddling by Betty Frain Ph.D. and Eileen M. Clegg
  • I'll Miss You Too: An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students by Margo E. Woodacre Bane and Stephanie Bane
Roosevelt University Counseling Center - 430 S. Michigan Ave. AUD 470 - Chicago, IL 60605
1400 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Rm 114 - Schaumburg, IL 60173 - (312) 341-3548