As a parent we often get the phone calls from our child about the dreaded roommate debacles. Below are three articles with great tips to help resolve those issues while still helping your child mature on his or her own.
Heaps of moldy laundry, snarly moods, spontaneous "borrowing"? Everyone's got a bad roommate story to share. But there's a silver lining too. Here are five good things about bad roommates - and thus five reasons to relax and let your child tackle his roommate issues on his own, or with the help of the dorm Resident Assistant, not Mommy:
5 Good Things About A Bad Roommate
- Terrible roommates help your child build resilience, flexibility and adaptability. No one gets good at the art of compromise and diplomacy without practice.
- Bad roommates encourage your child to leave his dorm room, get out there and meet new people - which is exactly what you want him to do. (And exactly why you don't want him rooming with a high school buddy.)
- Terrible roommates can make your child re-examine his own behavior. A roommate's fermenting laundry and dubious hygiene can be marvelous motivators for your child to do his own laundry and take his own daily showers.
- Ghastly roommate #1 will make roommate #2 seem all the more wonderful.
- And bad roommates make for excellent stories later on.
FAQs for College Parents
Question: Roommates Who "Borrow" Your Kid's Stuff
Answer: One of the most valuable parts of the college and dorm experience is living with a roommate and learning to get along. So roommate squabbles are your child's problem to fix. But playing the role of sympathetic sounding board can help your child find his own solutions. And sometimes your child doesn't want a fix, just Mom murmuring sympathetically. So it's helpful to...
- Murmur sympathetically, of course. It's certainly irritating to have someone take your things without asking.
- Gently ask how she has tried to resolve it. Has she talked to her roommate? Dorm RAs urge roommates to discuss room rules the first week of school for a very good reason. It not only sets up expectations for living together - "Thou shalt not play loud music at 3 a.m." - it also sets a precedent for discussing roommate issues down the road. Some people view their roommate's closet as an extension of their own. Others don't want anyone taking anything ever. And others are fine with lending things, as long as it's clear that things be returned promptly and in good condition. Clear communication is key.
- If your child has already tried talking to her roommate and nothing is working, do not call the housing office or the dean of student life. Your child needs to go to her dorm RA for help. Her RA is trained to do roommate conflict resolution, and this is dorm conflict at its most basic.
-Taken from Jackie Burell's article "Roommate's Who 'Borrow' Your Kid's Stuff."
Question: The Roommate Who Won't Lock the Door
Every college parent gets a call at some point about a roommate problem. But this one can have more serious consequences: "My roommate never locks the door." What can a parent do to help?
Answer: Most of the time, parents need to let their children sort out their college roommate issues on their own. You can murmur sympathetically and offer some gentle nudges, but it's your child's problem to fix. This one, however, carries some potentially serious consequences. Unlocked dormitory doors are a security risk. If it's a door to the outside, anyone can come in, which places everyone in the dorm at risk and, if that's not enough to motivate a change of roommate behavior, jeopardizes the roommate's housing contract. The more common problem, however, is an unlocked dorm room door, which opens the door, so to speak, to theft.
- First, ask how your child has tried to resolve the issue. Has he talked to his roommate? Have they discussed the potential theft issue?
- If that hasn't worked, there are two next steps - the first is for your child to protect his belongings. That means taking his laptop with him or safeguarding it in the room, by stashing it out of sight and/or using a laptop lock. Dorm insurance may be a good idea too.
- Second, your child's dorm RA can help here. At some colleges, RAs check doors as a matter of course, and some go as far as to enter, take something and leave a note that says, basically, "Had I been a less ethical person, your laptop would be gone forever. Come talk to me and you can get your laptop back." Urge your child to get his RA's help in dealing with this, whether it's forgetfulness or something more cavalier.
--To view the all articles on roommates by Jackie Burell, visit here.