College is a huge change for young adults. It is a time for them to finally spread their wings and enter into the adult world, but student wellbeing activist David Magee believes that young adults still need their parents even after they've moved out. “College-aged children are not equipped to handle the problems plaguing their generation on their own,” says Magee, who is the author of the book "Things Have Changed: What Every Parent (and Educator) Should Know About the Student Mental Health and Substance Misuse Crisis." He continued by saying, “Between mental health disorders, substance misuse, body image issues, and a plethora of other challenges, they need your guidance more than ever. Staying connected during this time gives them the support they desperately need.” Magee decided to devote his life to being a student wellbeing activist after he lost his son, William, to an accidental drug overdose and almost lost his other son, Hudson, to an overdose at a college frat party.
Magee offers some helpful tips to stay in touch, and in tune, with your child while they are away at college. The first tip is to be honest about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. It is important for your child to be educated on the problems surrounding the misuse of drugs and alcohol, and it's even more important that they hear these things from their parents. For everyone, but especially college students, it is imperative that you take care of your mental and physical wellbeing. Magee speaks about how every college student should have a "toolbox" of healthy habits, practices and mindsets. Having open communication is another very important reminder for parents when their children go off to college. “Ensure that your child feels safe enough to come to you no matter what. Keep the lines of communication open, and always, always assure your child that you love them and are here for them,” said Magee.
Another tip that Magee recommended is making sure that parents encourage their children to choose their friends wisely. “Your teen or young adult child might not realize that they are entering into a pressure cooker of threats when they leave for college,” says Magee. “And most of this pressure is going to come from other students. The wise saying, ‘Students get students on drugs, and students get students off drugs,’ comes into play here. Encourage your child to find people who will not pressure them into harming themselves through substance abuse. It’s worth holding out for genuine friends—even if it means being lonely for a little while.” Magee also encourages parents to listen rather than lecture their college students. He described that parents should try to stray away from preaching "at" them and try listening and validating their feelings instead. The last tip that Magee recommends is to read between the lines and trust your intuition. Take note of what your child is not saying and try to pick up on small changes that indicate something is wrong.
Magee concluded by saying, "Stay close, and you will rest easier knowing they are safe, growing into strong young adults, and making good decisions that will serve them well.”