blog » September 7, 2018 by Renee Herren

#30Seconds In-Depth: Parenting Your College Freshman With Parentologist Roma Khetarpal by Renee Herren

Blog Parenting
2 months ago
#30Seconds In-Depth: Parenting Your College Freshman With Parentologist Roma Khetarpal

You have been preparing for this moment for the past 18 years: your child has successfully graduated high school and is getting ready to embark on the adventure of college! While you are most likely experiencing feelings of pride, excitement and joy, you are also probably feeling a sense of loss and confusion. Roma Khetarpal, the founder and CEO of Tools of Growth and the author of the award-winning book, “The ‘Perfect’ Parent: 5 Tools for Using Your Inner Perfection to Connect with Your Kids" shared tips to help us navigate our new role as a parent of a college freshmen!

Q: When kids leave home for college, it's such a bittersweet time! How can parents come to grips with letting go and parenting from a distance?

This is the moment we’ve waited for our whole lives. We’ve spent all our time and effort on this so let’s step into this gracefully. The only way of finding out if our kids will make it on their own is by letting go. Allow your kids to make mistakes and fall and learn, this is what growth is all about. In-dependence is being dependent on your inner self. Let them know you’re there but don’t push. Let them reach out to you when they need you. Parenting from a distance can be so sweet if we allow ourselves to experience it. It’s like allowing your child to ride a bike.

Q: Aside from emotional challenges of letting go, there are practical considerations when parenting from afar. How can parents experience less anxiety when they are making their own schedules and are otherwise living independently and not checking in?

  • Think about how annoying it is if you are at work and your kids keep calling you and expect an answer right away. They are experiencing a new journey, they aren’t going to respond right away. Be OK with it. Accept it.
  • Shatter your expectation of immediate responses and authoritative parenting. It defeats the purpose of sending kids away. Anxiety is self-created in our head. We need to learn to be conscious, mindful and self-manage.
  • Do not impulsively hound your kids, they will pick up on it and will move further away. Remember, they aren’t at home anymore and they CAN move further away. Again, let them know you’re there and let go. Guide and step aside.

Q: How can we encourage independence in our children and empower them to make good decisions on their own?

By letting them fall and make mistakes. Mis-take is a take that’s missed. They will have plenty of opportunities to re-take. You just have to believe in and trust your children. You don’t just encourage their independence, you give it to them. Be OK with that space. They will find their own power to make good decisions and some bad decisions that they will learn from. BE OK WITH THEIR BAD DECISIONS. Fear-based parenting discourages independence and disempowers kids to make good decisions on their own.

Q: How can we let our children know that they are now responsible for their own schedules and Mom and Dad won't be there to tell them to go to class, etc., and all the while ensure them that we are still their "safety net" if things don't go quite right?

You don’t have to let them know they are responsible for their own schedules, they already know that. They are going to be late to school and fall off their schedules. They have to learn this themselves. If you’ve built a good foundation of good communication and connection with your kids, they already know that you are their safety net and they will turn back. If you have a good relationship, they will turn to you when things don’t go quite right. Of course, you can remind them that you are there for them. Use words like, “I’m always here,” “I’ve got your back.” Let them know using those terms.

Q: Helicopter parenting is not just for moms of little kids. It can continue into the college years. How can we break the cycle of needing to "over-parent" our kids, even when they are away at school?

This is a great question answered by Julie Lythcott-Haims in her book “How to Raise an Adult” (a must-read for all parents sending their kids away to college). When we helicopter our kids, we cut off their legs. They will not want to stand up on their own two feet. Remind yourself what your purpose of sending them to college was – to be independent. Take a step back and get some new hobbies. Hang out with a friend, take a warm bath. They no longer live at home for a reason. Accept that. Don't resist the situation.

Social media has actually encourage helicopter parenting because we can reach out to our kids in an instant across platforms. Group your thoughts and concerns, write them down and share it with them when the moment is right. Not 10 times a day. If you are texting them 10 times a day, with 300 new friends, they are likely to skip your text.

Q: What is the right balance of communicating with college kids? Before cell phones, we may have talked to our parents once a week from our dorms. Now, with always-accessible communication, how much is too much?

Ask your kids what the right balance is. Ask them two weeks into school – by then they will have their schedule and be more settled. Do not sit and like every post of theirs. Commenting once in a while is enough. Don’t stalk their social media handles. That does not send the message, I care for you. It says, I’m stalking you.

Q: What are your top three tips for parents with kids going off to college, to ensure a successful transition for parent and child alike?

  • When your kids call you with stories or shares you didn’t expect to hear, do not gawk at it. Keep a straight face and listen until they are done. They are sharing an experience. You have no control over the decisions they make so don’t push them away from you.
  • If your siblings have spoken to them, consider that a connect for the day. If your spouse has talked to them, no #ParentingFOMO – consider that a connect as well.
  • You’ve groomed your kids for this moment their entire lives. Step back and enjoy the ride not by being in it but by enjoying it. 

Remember, they’re on the roller coaster and they are having a lot of fun. Keep a distance and watch. They will know you are watching and that you are there for them.

Q: How can people learn more about you and your services?

I’d love for you to check out my website at ToolsOfGrowth.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and I’m always happy to answer your parenting questions there. Also, I am always available for private consultations and group classes/talks for schools and businesses. I work with many of my local school districts and would love to work with your school as well.

Be sure to read Roma's 30Seconds tips!

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
With six kids in college, Dieter Schmitz and I can really relate to this! Very excited about this chat, Roma Khetarpal . Thank you for sharing your expertise with us! Tools Of Growth
Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
I know so many parents who will love this chat! Thanks for being with us, Roma Khetarpal !
Meredith Schneider
Roma Khetarpal, I can't wait for tonight! We have a freshman and a junior in high school. So we will be having a freshman in college before we know it.. Ahhhhhh! More wine please!
Alex Bryant
An insightful read. Thank you for sharing your findings with the 30 seconds community. Sad to had missed the live-conversation, but you will always have my support. Miss you, Roma Khetarpal !

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