Preparing Your College-Bound Child for Living with Roommates
By Sylvia Cochran – College Bound
As though moving away from home were not difficult enough, your son or daughter may have to add “roommate” to the college to-do list. As a Christian parent, you are bound to be apprehensive about letting junior move in with virtual strangers whose lifestyles and habits may be contradictory to your personal values. Is there a way to prepare the college student for choosing wisely when picking a roommate? Indeed, there is.
- Narrow down the options. Will the roommate be a same-sex boarder who will share the same room with the student? Another option is the same-sex roommate who has a separate bedroom but shares the rest of the apartment or house. A bad idea is the mixed-gender household that has been popularized on TV. From a Christian perspective, there is a lot of temptation to rush into sexual encounters that should be avoided.
- Agree on the financial split. Do the roommates split all the expenses right down the middle? Will the person with the larger bedroom pay a little extra? Discourage an arrangement where your college student will be unable to pay for the home, should the roommate flake out. You don’t want the student to be homeless or in desperate search for an apartment in the middle of a stressful semester. At the same time, you do not want to be on the hook for a rent payment either.
- Put it in writing. Strongly urge your child to only consider a roommate relationship with another youngster who agrees to put the entire contract in writing. In addition, warn the student away from young people who already have bad credit and therefore seek to not put their names on a lease agreement (ostensibly so as not to ruin the group’s chances of getting a great place).
- Look in the right places. The odds are good that the “roommate wanted” ads at the local college are a popular but not always good source for a Christian student. A better idea is the local faith community, especially if it is affiliated with the church that the youngster attended at home. Local Christian college students oftentimes also move into roommate households to practice living on their own; an out-of-towner may be able to room with them.
- Prepare the student for pitfalls. Just like camaraderie and pizza are part of a successful roommate relationship, objectionable personal habits and even personality traits can make for a trying experience. Help your student to understand that tolerance and discretion go a long way when living with another person under one roof. At the same time, help the youngster to understand that there are some lines that must not be crossed in keeping with your values and that s/he is within her or his rights to leave the roommate relationship if these lines are disrespected. An example is the abuse of drugs or alcohol by a roommate.
At the end of the day, remember that the college-bound youngster is on the cusp of adulthood. Any parenting and instilling of values should have already happened and taken root at this time. Trying to micromanage the student’s roommate experience could drive a wedge between parent and child, just as their relationship is changing. Tread lightly and allow the child to make some mistakes (just be there to help pick up the pieces, if needed).
About Sylvia Cochran
Sylvia is a seasoned freelance writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Christian Parenting Courses at Sui
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