Skip To Content

Counseling & Psychological Services

Counseling & Psychological Services

Counseling & Psychological Services

Communicating Effectively With Your College-Age Son or Daughter

Developing a new way of communicating with your son or daughter can be a key factor in your student's well-being. Naturally, the relationship between a parent and child changes as the child matures. Likewise, the way in which you communicate with one another needs to change as well.  Here are some tips:

  • Guiding instead of pushing.  Offer your perspective as something to think about, rather than as the right solution to a problem.  It's important that your student have opportunities to make their own decisions, whenever possible, by thinking through their options and the potential outcomes. 
  • Listen to understand their perspective.  When your opinions or ideas conflict, which is natural as your student gains independence, it's important to fully understand his or her perspective before reacting.  Listen patiently without interrupting, don't push ahead in the direction that you would like the conversation to go, and ask for additional information if you don't understand their point of view.
  • Agree to disagree.  Acknowledge that you have heard what your son or daughter has said.  If you find yourself going in circles about the same point, it may be time to accept the fact that you have different perspectives on the subject, and together try to find a compromise if possible.
  • Be sure to let your student know that he or she does not have to protect you from worry.  One way to communicate this is to say something like: "You don't ever have to hide your feelings from me. I know you may not expect to run into difficulties, but I want you to know that if you should ever want to talk about a problem, or should feel unhappy or sad, I'm here to listen and support you."  

Effective communication between you and your son or daughter can help when dealing with day-to-day issues that may arise, as well as with more challenging situations.  If a new style of communication has been developed, one that acknowledges that your son or daughter is now an adult,  he or she will be more likely to confide in you.

Sometimes students find that, in addition to talking with family and friends, it can be helpful to talk with a professional therapist.  Counseling & Psychological Services offers individual and group counseling designed for students who can benefit from short-term counseling.  Under some circumstances, such as a student needing longer-term therapy, referrals will be provided to off-campus resources.  Students interested in talking with a therapist in our office can call (619) 594-5220 and speak with a therapist on phone consultation.  This service is also available to faculty, staff and parents who would like information about how to help a student get the support they need.

Kadison & DiGeronimo, College of the Overwhelmed, The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What To Do About It,  (JosseyBass Press, 2004).

Adubatu DiGeronimo, Speak From The Heart: Be Yourself & Get  Results, (The Free Press, 2002).