Church college ministries have a unique opportunity to minister not just to college students, but to parents as well. Parent ministry used to be for children and youth ministries only. Not so anymore. With the rise of commuter campuses and community colleges, parents are more involved than ever in the lives of their students.
Families in your church who are walking through this stage of life could use the help and support of their church. These are new days, though the student is living at home, the role of a parent is changing. This transition is challenging for both the student and the parents. How might you be able to help ease tensions and provide Biblical guidance during this time?
It is difficult for many parents to let go and let their student live life on their own, particularly if they are still living at home. Helicopter parenting describes those parents who "hover over" their students, rescuing them every time things don't go as planned. Just this week Slate published an article about the correlation between helicopter parents and students with mental health problems. The article points to recent studies that show "students with helicopter parents were less open to new ideas and actions and more vulnerable, anxious, and self-conscious."* Parents are calling college administrators to complain about grades and work-study programs. Some are even calling to wake their students up to be sure they are going to class.
Some outside perspective from someone that parents trust can be a welcome voice in the midst of a difficult time. Sometimes it is as simple as making parents aware of the problem. Your child is not a child anymore, but an adult. And you can help students by having them view the situation from their parent's perspective.
Your church could offer a light-hearted seminar for parents and students who are beginning this new college journey together. Help them be aware of pitfalls before they come upon them. Or you may want to start a loosely organized "support group" for parents. Just be sure the conversation stays positive and helpful. You will also want to share resources with them that can help them navigate these college years effectively. Help parents and students to see this time as an opportunity for their relationships to grow and mature into what they want them to be as adults.