Consulting with Us
We recognize that parents are going to be naturally concerned about their sons and daughters. This is especially true when students enter college for the first time, when they may experience the adjustment difficulties that are common to students when they leave home. We welcome and encourage general consultations with concerned parents via phone or in-person. Parents can call our offices at (317) 788-5015 to discuss with a counselor any concerns they might have about the well-being of their son or daughter.
It is important to understand, however, that strict and complete confidentiality applies for all students who receive services at our Counseling Center, and that no information will be released to anyone without the student’s written consent.
The University of Indianapolis Counseling Center cannot confirm or deny that a student has visited or is a client of the Counseling Center, nor can we disclose any information without the student’s signature on a Release of Information form.
This policy follows the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association. We believe the confidentiality assurance we make is critical to the therapeutic relationship and your student’s ability to openly discuss and work through various difficulties he or she is experiencing.
We, of course, want to accommodate your concerns related to your son or daughter, and are happy to provide parents a general consultation specific to your concerns, as well as suggestions and recommendations regarding your son’s or daughter’s well-being.
We can also provide you with ways for you to encourage your son or daughter to visit our Counseling Center if needed. We can provide general tips or suggestions on how you might work through the particular difficulty or concern you are experiencing with your son or daughter. We will also offer other on-campus resources available to your son or daughter that may be additional sources of assistance to them.
The Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is closed for lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. You can reach us via phone or e-mail and we will be happy to consult with you.
We are located on the second floor of the Schwitzer Student Center. Although most of the time we can return your call in the same day, please keep in mind that it may take up to 24 hours before we can call you back. If you think it is an emergency, please let our office manager know that when you call, and a counseling staff member will contact you right away.
Please note that if you are contacting us via e-mail, the Internet is not a completely secure mechanism for relaying sensitive information such as your son’s or daughter’s name or the issue you need to discuss. Therefore, a brief note expressing your desire to talk with us is preferred. Then we can contact you directly to discuss your specific concerns.
Adjustment Issues for You and Your College Student
The transition from high school to college can be very difficult for students. But it can be equally distressing for parents who are learning to let go. Letting go, of course, begins in the early years with your son’s or daughter’s increasing independence. But it is not until they actually leave home to attend college that it becomes such a stark reality.
Although it can be a time of great celebration and pride, it is likely to bring a multitude of emotions as their childhood and your responsibility for childrearing ends. Parents send their young adults off with a mix of emotions, such as elation and trepidation, a sense of freedom and loneliness, and often confusion about how their roles are transitioning yet remaining the same in some aspects.
It is not comforting to know that your child is going through similar throes of confusion as he or she vacillates between demanding independence and seeking protection and nurturing from you during this stage of development. It is helpful to know, however, that this is the normal course of development and a very healthy, albeit challenging, time for the family.
At the same time, parents are entering a new phase of their lives and it is difficult to manage the conflicting desires to let go, yet stay connected, in the familiar and comforting manner as before.
We have some basic suggestions listed here for navigating the turbulent waters of your son’s or daughter’s search for greater independence and self-reliance. In addition, you are welcome to contact us to discuss your concerns regarding your college-age student. At the end of these suggestions, you will also find some recommended reading sources and websites you may want to consider.
1. Accept it Will be Different
Students are going to be more independent, so it's important that parents foster and encourage that. At the same time, it is helpful if your student can recognize how hard it can be for you as a parent to let go as your roles are changing.
It can be a very confusing time for both students and parents as students will vacillate between demanding their independence and wanting the security and stability that home and parents signify.
It’s a delicate balance, but the key is learning when to let go, fostering their growth, and at the same time, being an anchor for them by providing support and guidance when they need it.
2. Give Advance Warning: Avoid Bombshells
You can avoid hurt feelings and conflict by giving each other advance warning of any significant changes. For parents, that means reassurances that your son or daughter is still an important part of the family even though you had to turn their bedroom into an office, or there was a sibling takeover.
On the flip side, ask your student to warn you in advance about significant changes including any tattoos, piercings, or whacky haircuts that might come as a bombshell to you. You may still need to talk about it when you get home, but at least they are not blindsiding you.
3. Negotiate, Don't Argue
The most important thing that you and your student can do is communicate. You are going to have different expectations with regard to your roles and interactions when your student returns home for breaks. For example, your student may think he or she should be treated as an adult guest when at home while you may think interactions with each other will be the same as before your son or daughter went to college.
Parents will need to revise old rules, curfews and ways of interacting. However, it is reasonable to request that your student recognize and respect your concerns when home on breaks by telling you when he or she is going to be home or by calling if he or she is going to be out later than expected. The critical step here is to listen to and respect each other's views and come up with mutually satisfying solutions.
4. Create New Family Rituals
Hold on to those traditions which are most meaningful, but develop new ones which accommodate the changes both your student and you have made since college. For example, make time to engage in a shared interest or hobby, work on a project around the house together to help your student feel at home, or find time to work together toward personal goals (e.g., physical health, career satisfaction, spiritual wellness, or community service). Remember different isn’t bad. In fact, most parents find that the new adult relationships they are developing with their students are very rewarding.
“Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years” by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger [Amazon]
“You're On Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need Me) : Mentoring Your Child During the College Years” by Marjorie Savage [Amazon]
“Been There, Should've Done That II: More Tips for Making the Most of College” by Suzette Tyler [Amazon]
“The Naked Roommate and 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College” by Harlan Cohen [Amazon]