We often see kids who go off whose parents thought they would be okay, and to their shock, their kids begin to have significant issues very quickly on campus for many different reasons. Some parents may be in denial trying to prop them up and make it look like they’re doing better than they are; some are shocked, baffled, and scared that their kids are struggling; some go into rescue mode and pull them out of school. There are all kinds of responses. We all know parenting is difficult, but how do you support your kids without enabling or saving them? How do you know when it is time to jump in and help versus when your kid’s just having a tough day?
Here are some strategies:
Start early; start preparing well in advance. Have conversations about what to expect and what to do in various situations. Decide how to create accountability and communication, what’s okay and what’s not.
Let them try to navigate it on their own. Many folks will pull them out at two weeks when it’s not necessarily a critical situation, and then they’re preventing them from building the grit and resilience they need for the real world.
Consider the options if they are seriously struggling. If it’s a 16-week semester, and you take your kid out, will they get behind? What does a withdrawal look like? What does a medical leave look like? You must also ask yourself, is it the end of the world if your kid fails a class?
A Gap year can be a great thing. Letting your kid choose their path versus what’s expected in social circles is the best thing you can do for them.