By: Phil EuBank, Family Pastor College culture has never been more diverse; the assumptions that many make about what the 'typical' student wants or needs in life are usually too narrow and inaccurate. The benchmarks of social progress for adults are very delayed compared to previous generations. However many College students and young adults are extremely thoughtful about the future and find themselves paralyzed by the future; wanting to find the perfect will of God and avoid a tragic life of monotony.
As parents of a College-aged student you have a great opportunity to show the love of God and the grace of Jesus in a context where they may see or hear it in a new way that changes their whole life. The transition they are making is the most profound of their life and you get to cheer them along!
Affirm the Good
When your student is wrestling with decisions and directions, it is important that you're there to help them hear what is good and right on the path. The heart is certainly the priority of God and should be yours but there are easy potholes they can avoid with you cheering on the sidelines. When they head down a path, rather than criticize or take over, affirm the good aspirations and directions they are investigating.
Think about the cheer team on the sidelines; no matter how bad the game looks they stay positive and when something great happens they are the first ones to celebrate the successes of the team. Your student doesn't have many positive supports at this point in their life and they need you to be their strongest advocate, pointing them to the purpose for their lives.
Don't Try to Play Catchup
You probably wish you would've spent more time with your son or daughter when they were younger, attended more functions, planned more carefully, etc. The truth is that we all mess up, including parents and that's why we need Jesus and the Gospel; even in our parenting. The hard implications of this are that you can't go back and right the wrongs of the past. You can pray and hope but the person in school or in your basement is right where they are and going back in time is not an option.
You can love them and spend time with them now and you should. Even if you feel like they don't want you to be around or to invest in them, that is often exactly when they need you to engage the most. Don't look back on your mistakes and regrets; look forward to the time you have ahead and savor it.
Release into Life
Coming off that last piece of advice you may be thinking that the best approach is to hold onto your son or daughter as close as you can for as long as you can. The goal of parenting in some respects is to raise a Jesus-loving, independent man and woman who loves God, people and changes the world. While this doesn't mean you should pull the rug out from under your nineteen year old next week, it probably means you need to cheer your 28 year old off the couch and into a job and an apartment.
You holding onto them isn't helping and you really need to seek counsel and begin the process of releasing your student into life, even if it isn't the one you envisioned them living.