Congrats! Your child has done the hard work and gotten into college. Now you get to travel – to see her! After moving your teen into college, your next job is to be at parents weekend. These tips will make every college family weekend a success.
Parents Weekend Dos and Don’ts
Call it Parents Weekend, Family Weekend, or Parent & Family weekend. Whatever the title, a college visitation weekend is the chance for parents to check in with their kids, explore the campus life and buy everything your college student forgot at home (including, sometimes, the ability to just buy things online). My youngest daughter (of three!) just graduated from college, so we have many years of experience of parent weekends at three different colleges Whatever your expectations, there are a few dos – and a lot of don’ts – to making this a great weekend.
Before my oldest daughter’s first family weekend at college, Hallie panicked. A lot of parents at her school were polar opposites of us politically. And this was well before the 2016 election! There was one family she was particularly concerned about. If we met them, we were not to discuss politics. Or religion. Or gay marriage. Everything was forbidden.
But Hallie had to go to a class and we went for a hike. We met the banned parents and spent a couple of hours hiking with them. The next day, I heard my name called out at breakfast, and there was the mom, waving us over to her table. We ate the rest of our meals together and have stayed friends for seven years, seeing each other without the kids’ involvement. (We never discuss politics)
The Major No-No: Don’t skip Parents Weekend. Ever.
When our middle daughter was a freshman, my husband and I both had work trips coinciding with family weekend. We tried to sell her on the idea of coming the weekend after, to ‘focus on you.’ She did not buy it. She already had middle child syndrome and here we were, skipping this sacrosanct family time. Move mountains, reschedule, and be there.
What to Expect at Family Weekend
Depending on the college’s size, family programs vary greatly. Generally, there is some programming during the day Friday, but don’t worry if you can’t arrive until Friday night. Many events are offered multiple times during the weekend. If you didn’t visit campus to tour the school or drop your kid off, you can take a tour, maybe sit in on a class, and see the student comedy and a capella groups. The art museum might have an open house and there are often lectures by different professors. You can often go to a football game or soccer match, a concert or a dance performance.
Parents Weekend Don’ts:
Don’t sit in on your child’s class if the college offers this option and she doesn’t want you to attend.
Stay out of his stuff
Don’t insist on an activity that you saw on the weekend schedule of events. This is his weekend, not a family vacation. We would come a day early to parent’s weekend to explore a local art museum or friend who lived nearby, then have the family weekend revolve around our child.
Parents Weekend Do’s
Do eat at the dining hall. It’s a great way to sample the expensive meal plan you pay for. (But be realistic. The cuisine is elevated for family weekend).
But if your child only wants to eat off campus, see if the college family weekend schedule includes breakfast or brunch in the dining hall. Your college student is unlikely to wake up that early and you can eat without her.
Concerned parent says
Do you think it is ok for a spouses new girlfriend to attend a parent weekend?
Judy Antell says
depends on how the kid feels about it
I think you are not very sensitive and not taking your role a patent or guardian seriously. On parents weekend DO check on your child, DO check drawers and what have you. You are never going to be a friend or peer. You are a parent and guardian. Make sure your moral standards are clear, your moral compass is undoubted. Your child is intelligent enough to make her own choices,but you have to make sure it’s informed choices.
Judy Antell says
This is meant to be funny – as I write below it, parents will look in their child’s stuff. But you have to be sensitive to the fact that your child is growing up and has the right to some privacy.
Lorri Shannon says
I think you are spot on, whether you intended to be funny or not. I don’t go through my children’s things in my own house. I trust them and respect their right to privacy. If I have concerns, I talk to them. And (gasp!) they actually tell me things and ask for my advice when they have trouble problem solving! Because they know I’m not going to go off the deep end if it’s something I won’t like. I believe my duty as a parent is to work myself out of a job. Just my two cents…