Your Role As a College Parent: Sideline Coach – Part 1

This is the first part in a three part series about acting in a new role as a coach for your college student.

As your child heads off to college you are probably experiencing many emotions.  That is not only natural, it is a good thing.  It means that you recognize the enormity of the step that your child is taking as he enters that first year of college.  Remember how it felt when he headed to kindergarten, or got behind the wheel of the car for the first time?  In many ways, this new phase is similar.

It is important to remember that this is a new stage, not only for your child, but for you as well.  As the parent of a college freshman, your role is changing in significant ways.  We know that this is an important time of transition for our college student, but we’re often so busy focusing on our son or daughter that we forget that this is a transition for us as well.

If your child is going to be living away from home, you know that your home-life will be different – more food, less laundry, more quiet, fewer dirty dishes.  But your role as a parent will also be changing. You’re no longer in the middle of it all, with the action swirling around you.  So you now have a choice.  You can feel lost and useless, or you can embrace your new role – as coach.  Like any good coach, there comes a time to step back and observe the results of your hard work.

When it comes to the “big game”, no matter how important it is, the coach is on the sidelines.  No matter how much he may want to, the coach doesn’t, and can’t, play the game for the players.  But if the coach has done his work in the pre-season, during all of those long practice hours, the players know what to do on the field.  As a parent, we need to know that we’ve done our “pre-season” work.  We need to trust our son or daughter to get onto the field and play the game.

We also need to remember that the coach has a job to do on the sidelines of the game. The players need him there – his presence is crucial. The coach gives suggestions about plays, congratulates and supports, scolds, cajoles, and sometimes registers displeasure.  The coach is definitely involved in the game, but he’s not one of the players on the field.

And sometimes, the coach needs to take the player into the locker room and give him a talking to so the player will “shape up” and play the rest of the game differently.

Some of the best athletes in the world credit their coaches for their success. Like good coaches, as parents, we have a place during the college years. Being on the sidelines is not being out of the game.  If we can embrace our role as coach, we can help our college student to be an Olympic star!

In our next post, we’ll listen to some advice from some of the world’s outstanding coaches, and consider how it applies to college parenting.

Related Posts:

Your Role As a College Parent: Part 2 – Coaching Inspiration

Your Role As a College Parent: Sideline Coach – Part 3

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