Help your kids become independent when away from home

Heading off to post-secondary school for the first time can be stressful for parents and kids alike. Naturally kids are excited and nervous about starting out on their own. But parents also have to adjust to this new reality.

Here are a few pointers from Laura Plant, senior director, youth and young adult segment at RBC, that can help smooth the transition for both:

Listen more than you talk. Parents sometimes try to project their own experiences onto their kids, but it’s important that you learn to let your kids explore experiences on their own. Listen to their needs, concerns and triumphs, and offer your perspective when it’s appropriate.

Discuss money matters openly. Set expectations at the start — if you’re funding the cost of their education, be clear if there are rules on how they spend the funds and what’s expected from them. Keep the lines of communication open and be approachable if they are having a hard time managing budgets.

Put together a spending kit for essentials. Gift cards for grocery, drug and department stores will help them manage their funds better and ensure that money for essentials always gets spent in the right places.

Stay close, but not too close. You don’t need to arrive on the scene every time you think they need to see you. A quick text message or email is often enough to let them know you are thinking of them. Be in touch and available if you’re needed, but encourage independence and a chance to figure it out for themselves.

Give them some breathing room. Don’t demand a daily rundown of their activities or expect long conversations on the phone. Remember, they’re busy learning new things and making new friends. And that’s a good thing.