For Parents

Concerned about how your student will manage a chronic condition and/or disability at U-M and how you can help? It's common to wonder what role parents should play in supporting a student. Although the young adult years are for building autonomy, a robust support network is still important. Here are ways you may be able to help, especially if your student is a first-year or transfer student:

  • Start planning prior to your student’s arrival on campus. See the checklist of tips for a smooth transition (link to pdf) to help your student get started. Included are steps to help ensure ongoing care, and to address medication and insurance issues.
  • Encourage your student to make a plan for health and wellness. All too often, students wait until problems become severe before taking action. Encourage your student to make a plan (link to sample plan) to recognize symptoms early, create strategies for managing potential stressors, and plan for treatment and support.  
  • Talk with your student about issues s/he is likely to encounter, such as how to handle stress and how to make good decisions about alcohol or other drug use. This can be especially important if your student is taking medication.  Make sure your student knows his/her medications and how alcohol or other drugs may interact.  Try to remain non-judgmental, but make your expectations clear. 
  • Create an emergency contact plan. For example, get contact information for someone who is likely to know how to locate your student, such as a roommate or resident advisor (RA).  Encourage your student to complete and carry  an emergency contact card (link to sample emergency card).
  • Get familiar with U-M Resources. Students may turn to their parents for reliable health information, so you will want to be informed about available resources and encourage your student to become informed as well. 
  • Stay in contact. Although your student will become more independent and take more responsibility, it's still appropriate for you and your student to discuss how things are going. Respect your student’s needs and work together to come up with a plan for staying in touch that feels comfortable for you both.  Email can be a good way to stay connected, but it’s also wise to plan for the occasional phone call or Skype session. You may sense things in your student’s voice that may not come across over email.