My eight years as an OU parent are coming to an end, and I’m a little sad. I know what you are thinking … ”Your child has been going to college for eight years?” Actually, both of my kids are at the University of Oklahoma now. My son is getting his doctorate in physical therapy, and my daughter is about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in human relations. I’ve loved the experience that OU has given my kids, and I am happy to share my thoughts about this OU parenting thing.
1. To take your mind off the “empty nest,” embrace their independence. Remember … the best age is the one they are in.
2. Get excited! Watching my kids navigate that first year of college was like going back in time. It brought back great memories of my college days. It made it a little easier to think of all the fun they were having when I was lonely.
3. There is a fine line when it comes to parenting and letting your kids fail. It is good to let them make mistakes and learn from them, but don’t let them fall flat on their face. If you feel like intervening, wait a day and then make a decision. Your gut feeling is usually right.
4. No news is good news. No news means they are busy and having fun. We had a rule at our house though. They couldn’t go more than three days without calling or texting me.
5. FERPA rules … You can’t check their grades or contact their professors. BUT, you can get permission from your son or daughter to access their grades once the semester is over. It’s OK to ask them how they are doing in their classes and encourage them to seek help. Your OU Parent Guide contains a list of services and academic resources. They need to USE them and visit their professors during office hours. Keep that book in a handy place, so you can know how to help them. They often won’t remember what they learned in Orientation.
6. Don’t count on them sleeping or eating well. Often these bad habits take a toll on students during the first six weeks. If you get the feeling for a minute that they are sick or depressed, MAKE them visit Goddard Health Center ASAP. They can see a doctor or counselor. And they have a full-service pharmacy there.
7. Stop feeling guilty about doing the little things. Send letters and care packages and text them. Take their friends to dinner. Visit them. Do their laundry … I did their laundry for years. They were grateful, and it created a chance for me to see them.
Bottom line: College is overwhelming for new freshmen AND their parents, but if you both embrace it, you will enjoy every moment!
— Karen Renfroe,