Parents can help their students mature

In September, your child came to attend the University of Lethbridge. Now it is February . . . is your child making the journey to becoming an adult? What are the top three things every parent of a student in university needs to know?

As the U of L Health Centre manager the past 11 years, I believe a parent's interest in their child's life is key, but they must try to avoid intrusiveness or control.

I believe love can be shown at this stage of their child's life by parents providing support in developing competency in an evolving relationship that focuses on life choices, the growing adult role in decision-making and responsibility/involvement in campus life.

First of all, parents can focus on a student's personal development and their need to examine major and minor life choices. In conversations with your child, keep the emphasis on choices and methods of achieving competence in academic and non-academic areas. Encourage them to ask for help and ask whom they have contacted in terms of getting assistance from campus support mechanisms. These include the following:

• Advisors from their Faculty
Counselling Services
• Health Centre (physicians, nurses, psychiatrist, dietitian, chiropractor, massage therapy and basic health insurance questions)
Disability office
Housing office
Career and Employment Services
• Professors (do you know they have office hours available to students to discuss academic issues?) and/or the Registrar's Office or deans of the faculty.

Secondly, focus on their "growing adult role" in decision-making – in both their academic life as well as non-academic situations that could affect their academic life. For example, issues such as money management can greatly affect a student's ability to learn and study.

Discuss the choices in front of them, the consequences of various actions and even inaction. Encourage problem-solving skills for their life issues. Methods to encourage students include talking about:

- Smart money management (without trying to control)
- Risk and safety services and the Security Office (Did you know there is a Safewalk Program? Do you know the emergency number to call Security for first aid or any emergency on an in-house phone?)

• What to do if not sober and needing a ride home
• Their opinion on alcohol and other drugs
• The University's fitness facilities and if they are physically active
• The importance of yearly physicals and physician care if they are ill
• The importance of career counselling to ensure they are studying that which will give them personal and future employment success

Thirdly, assist your student to claim responsibility for their actions, thereby understanding that their actions affect others. Try not to "fix" things for students but encourage personal responsibility, requesting help when needed and finding a sense of belonging through positive campus involvement.

Students are responsible for such issues as behavioural choices, following academic rules, personal integrity, developing healthy study, eating and sleep habits, seeking academic assistance and becoming an active, integral, positive member of the campus community. Personal responsibility is an important element of adult life.

I hope you enjoy seeing your child turn into a remarkable, amazing, energetic, caring and competent adult!

Lori Weber - RN/Manager - University of Lethbridge Health Centre (With thanks to "A New Chapter, how parents fit into their student's lives at college" by Paperclip Communications)