So you have a son or daughter who is headed off to college. You want them to have a successful transition in this new stage of life. How can you assist them with this transition in a way that helps them grow in their faith? I’ve got six suggestions.
Before your son or daughter moves away make sure to visit the campus with them. Help them to find a church and campus ministry. Encourage your child to call the campus ministry in advance and let them know of his or her arrival.
Many campus ministries have an open house for families and/or a week of activities to help incoming students connect. If they have a campus house it could serve as a great place to study, do laundry, play ping pong, attend devotionals and make friends.
2. First Impressions
Who your son or daughter makes friends with in the first two weeks of school can determine the direction of their life. There is a tendency not to choose friends wisely but rather just allow relationships to chance.
Recent grads long for acceptance. When you call the local church or campus ministry in advance, ask for some help moving in. This could help in surrounding your young adult with healthy relationships to ensure a good start.
3. Define Success
Remember that income is not the only measure of a successful career. Your graduate may not want to be an engineer, lawyer, doctor, or take over the family business. You will do yourself and them a favor if you stop comparing their life at age 18 to your current life at 40. It took you 20 years to attain your wealth and wisdom and it will likely take them 20 as well.
You can advise them on certain careers but you will never be able to force it upon them and expect longevity or expect for them to love the career you choose for them. Also, their faith and character are transferable to any field of study and career. Their faith in Jesus can be a vital part of their degree path and career choice. Faith and character transcend vocation, assists them in finding purpose, and helps them to gain some grit and complete what they start.
4. Serve Others
Help your son or daughter see the value of serving others. While attending school at the University of South Alabama I volunteered with Inner City Ministries. God used this ministry to lead me to Christ and teach me experientially that service to others is service to Him.
Your grad’s time will be filled with study, work, and socializing, amongst other things. Encourage them to give priority to serving others in their busy schedule. We tend to put things off until we have more time, more money, more skills, and more education. If we put off serving for a later date then we may never “get around to it.” When serving others is practiced in college then it is more likely to become a lifestyle post graduation.
5. Doubts are Not Disasters
Be prepared for your grad to struggle with their faith. If your child expresses doubt in long-held beliefs about God and the church try not to overreact. Easier said than done, right? Try to listen attentively to their doubts and respond with grace. Be unapologetic about your passion for God and your desire for them to continue a relationship with Him.
Try not to view doubts as a disaster but as an opportunity for them to develop their own faith. The choice to not worship God becomes greater as your young adult acquires more freedom. Conversely their choice to remain in Christ is more genuine.
6. Get Carpet Burns
If you haven’t already, start praying now! Get on your knees. You may be able to guide your teen with advice and resources but don’t forget to make requests to God. Pray that God sends good friends, classmates, employers, and professors (just to name a few that may challenge your child’s core values).
Pray that their faith is strengthened through testing. Pray that your teen matches all their decisions to God’s wisdom. I also recommend that you share your prayers with your teen. Pray with them about your concerns and theirs. They are nervous about this new part of life too. Discuss this blog with them. Converse, share, pray, love and remember God loves them, He is faithful and He is always near.
What advice do you have for parents of graduates?
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