Parenting Your College Student: Navigating New Terrain Over Winter Break


Editor’s note:  A version of this post was originally published on Admitted in January 2019. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series. 

The Class of 2023 will soon be home from college for their first winter break and many parents are seeing a new dynamic in their relationship with their children.

These college freshmen have just had their first taste of independence and striking the right balance can be tough for families.

“This is the hard work of being the parent to a college student,” parenting expert and doctor Deborah Gilboa told the Washington Post. “You got them here, now it’s time to let them go and let them thrive.”

Rachel Nelson, an academic adviser at the University of Florida, agrees. Conversations around the holiday dinner table often dump family pressure onto college students. She encourages parents to let their children find their own way.

“Too often, students feel familial pressure and guilt to pursue certain majors, earn certain grades,” Nelson told the Post. “Recognize that their journey to success and happiness may be very different from your own. And, that’s okay.”

Read the full Washington Post article for more advice.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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