Double Sunrise Young Women's Health: early teen to college years

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She's Struggling at College: What Do I Do?

My daughter is struggling, seems unhappy and homesick. What should I do?

Parents, hearing that their daughter is struggling in college are often flooded with questions. What should we do? Should we tell her to keep her chin up? Should we go visit her? Should we be worried? What if she wants to come home? Should we encourage her to stay? What if she really wants to leave school permanently? Is she too dependent on us? Did we do something wrong?

Sometimes parents pull back, hoping that she'll pull it together on her own. Many parents are unsure just what to do. A college woman's need for connection, geographical separation from her friends and family, and living in an academic environment that can be competitive in nature, often leads to her feeling isolated and alone. Researchers tell us is that what our daughters need the most is connection. This is especially important during the gap that can exist until she makes new relationships at school. She needs time to develop the kind of trustworthy and caring relationships that she has left behind.

She's got through the first years of college fine, but is struggling now. What's this about?

There are many reasons that young women face a struggle during the college years. It may be a broken or lost relationship. It can be facing academic uncertainty. It may be the terror that sets in as graduation approaches, when they realize that they have to make career decisions and soon be out in the world.

Kaplan and Klein (Wellesley Center: Working paper Women's Self Development in Late Adolescence) note that in the latter college years young women may get anxious when they feel pressure to choose a major and a path that will provide an economic future. Often they feel a conflict with what their parents want and their "question is not 'what to major in' but how to fulfill their own aspirations without damaging the ties with their families".

DoubleSunrise encourages parents to 'Keep Connected" with their daughters during college to prevent health problems and to encourage safe passage into adulthood. We will be continually updating ideas and tips on ways that parents can be supported in this process.

Keeping connected in order to grow