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Family Management When One Person Goes to College

Photo by javier trueba on Unsplash

There's a lot written about parents and empty nests, but what about the way that it affects the whole family when the first child heads off to college? This can lead to a substantial shift in family dynamics. This is true as well if one parent goes to college, even though that parent is almost certainly still living at home. Parents should keep the following points below in mind when either one of them or the first of their children moves out to pursue higher education.

Relationships

How this affects the family will vary a great deal depending on dynamics and relationships. Between romantic partners there are things every successful relationship has and remembering to nurture them during this time of transition is critical. If it's a parent who is going to college and that parent is the main caregiver, this is going to be a big adjustment for both the other parent and the kids, particularly for younger children. It's a good idea to talk about this adjustment as a family. Even if kids are reluctant to accept it at first, they may feel better if given a chance to express some of their fears. If it's a child who is going to school, it may affect the siblings in various ways depending on how close they are both emotionally and in age. Parents might want to consider setting up a regular family video conference to help everyone keep in touch.

Costs

Going to college is expensive. If parents are contributing to one child's education, the siblings still left at home could end up feeling the pinch of a tighter budget. Parents should reassure them that they will receive the same support. They may also want to consider what they might do financially for siblings who aren't planning to attend college. Those siblings might consider it unfair if parents spend a lot of money sending one child to college and don't offer them financial help as well. If it's a parent going to college and the parent worked outside the home until pursuing a degree, the family might have less money as well when that parent returns to school. One way to potentially help cover some costs and take the financial pressure off parents is by taking out a student loan. It's easy to look online and get information about such aspects as eligibility, options, and interest rates.

Maintaining Ties

Parents should think about how they want to preserve family cohesion in the years ahead. If one parent is going to school and also working, it can be difficult to maximize family time, but it's important to continue to do so. What about the kid who's away at college? Parents need to think about how to strike a balance between continuing to build family traditions and giving their child independence. The family might traditionally take a spring break vacation, but the kid away at college may have decided to spend the week with friends. There are a few factors that may go into considering how feasible this is, including cost, their child's age, and more. But ultimately, parents should keep in mind that their child is now legally an adult and give them the latitude to make their own decisions so that they can build their independence.

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