As a college student, it's likely that at least one, or both, of your parents have been bombarding you with various pieces of advice, such as to have a great college experience, to not go out, drink or have sex.
However, at some point, it gets past the line of appropriateness and needs to be addressed. Yes, parents are supposed to care, and they show that they do, but they're holding their college-aged kids back. The way they hold their college-aged kids back is with their words so the kid doesn't really know how to respond, leaving him or her even more confused and with a lot of self-doubt and negative self-image.
1. "Be nice."
As college students, you know the importance of being nice towards others, but you also know that if you're too nice, you'll be more prone to being taken advantage of. Parents, by repeatedly telling your college-aged kids to 'be nice', you're encouraging that they allow themselves to be taken advantage of time and time again, and you're one of them who is taking advantage of your child. You may still not understand why they're often down on themselves, but this is exactly why.
2. "You look better (insert fashion statement/style here)."
College students are hardest on themselves when it comes to looks. It's not on you to tell your college-aged kid on how to dress for class, or how to dress for a date or a big-time school function. Yes, it's somewhat of a 'fashion show' when it comes to going out on the town or at the bar/club, but how you style yourself isn't everything. College students know how to dress for the occasion, and it's their body so they choose what they want to do with it, not you. They don't 'belong' to you just because they are your children.
3. "You need to find a boyfriend/girlfriend."
No, they do not. College is for education, and your parents were part of the reason they got there. Keep on encouraging them to maximize their experience, but don't force them to find one. That's what makes them desperate/needy/clingy, a major turnoff for almost every college guy or girl out there. That's partly why you hear a lot of people say "I'm not looking for a relationship right now" and why people choose to be single for awhile in college. It's okay to not have a boyfriend/girlfriend that you bring home for Christmas as well, since not everybody does. College isn't solely about dating, and it hits home with me since I've been there, done that.
4. "You should come home more often."
Again, your children are not your property just because they are your children. You can look after and care about them all you want, but you can't just smother them by wanting to have them around. Most college students are grown-up enough to live on their own and are able to thrive better when their parents aren't influencing their every move.
5. "Don't get too involved at school."
This completely takes away from the student maximizing their experience at college. College is all about stepping OUT of your comfort zone, so to do that, you have to TRY new things. Whether it's joining a sorority/fraternity or just the club that pertains to your major, you have to find a way to do something other than just your academics. Yes, they're the integral foundation for your success, but they have to do more than that. They need to add substance/flavor to their college experience. That's how people stand out for their future. They're able to build experiences that those who just focus on their academics don't have.
6. "You need to get in shape."
This somewhat ties in with the concept of getting a girlfriend/boyfriend since being in shape makes you 'look' more attractive. But the fact of the matter is, parents, you are shaming your kids for their current body because they're not exactly 'well-built,' or if they don't have a 'hot' body. People are more than just their bodies, and they already are stressed out about that. Don't pour any more salt in the wound.
7. "Get a single-room apartment."
Some parents want their college-aged kid to have their own place because they want to visit him or her more. It's understandable if he/she gets one just because they prefer it, but parents, don't take advantage of their time/location just because you want to be there. It negatively affects their mood and they already feel more down about themselves because there weren't a whole lot of people who wanted to live with them.
8. "Be quiet."
Saying this in any form, even if it's not the exact words, is unacceptable. It's a method to silence your child when they have something to say, and it shows them how their opinions aren't accepted, or that they aren't welcomed/included. It also brings shame unto your child. Do you want your child to feel shameful?
9. "Don't get angry too easily."
This is also just as bad as the previous one, since it essentials renders your kid's feelings as useless/unworthy. When your college-aged kid tells you he's had some slip-ups and is trying to get better. don't snap on him/her because he/she isn't where he/she wants to be. As a matter of fact, YOU are the reason he/she gets angry when you do that. It's additionally unacceptable too because it's unfair how you can get angry at your kid yet he/she isn't allowed to be upset too?
He/She sees that you're frustrated with him/her and (he/she)'s now upset because he/she picked up that you don't like it. He/She doesn't like it either, but (he/she)'s trying to learn and get better from it. It's unhealthy because it impacts his/her ability to have healthy relationships, especially with you.
10. "Stop that."
Just telling someone to stop what they're doing when they're in a negative state and while you're with them isn't going to make things better. Parents, you need to STEP IN when your college-aged child is in this position. Telling them to stop won't calm them down. In fact, it will do just the opposite. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
11. "Ask us first."
Most of the time it's a great idea to consult with family, especially when you're a college-aged kid. But college-aged kids need to learn how to make big-time decisions for themselves.
12. "Be happy."
I understand the intent behind this, but especially if your college-aged kid is unhappy, telling him/her to 'be happy' will not do the trick. Refer to 10. Some parents still don't understand how this disables them from being able to express their feelings and emotions, and they NEED to do that to be healthy AND happy. By telling them to be happy, you're essentially telling them to hide every other thing that happens in their life and encouraging them to build their walls even higher instead of breaking them down. You will never see the real personality of your college-aged kid by doing this. Instead, you're going to see someone who is only a shell of what he or she really is, and that shell is nothing like the beautiful little girl or boy you had when he/she was younger.
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Parents, when you realize that these phrases you say to your college-aged kids aren't having the impact you want them to have, and you make the necessary adjustments, you will instantly see how much happier your kid is when you don't control his or her feelings, and you don't tell them how to feel. By doing that, you'll show that you're more appreciative and caring than these phrases show you to be. By saying something different, you're eliminating the shame from your child, you're promoting healthy behavior, and you're also allowing him or her to grow, and that's what they need to do most as college students.