How to be a Gap Mom or Dad for a college student. We live in a town that has many colleges. Our lives intersect with college students all the time. With these introductions to college students, I see a wide range of life connections back to their homes. Some college students have parents that are heavily involved in their lives on a daily, weekly, or at least monthly basis. On the other side of the spectrum, we have met college students that are international or many miles away that don’t have the ability to see, talk or receive resources from their homes. Being a Gap Mom or Dad for a college student is a huge blessing for these college students.
Just as a side note before we continue. I strongly believe that if you are doing this alone, and not as a husband and wife, you need to focus on being a Gap mom to a female and a Gap dad to a male. Hospitality can be shown to the opposite sex but if you are going to be investing in an ongoing relationship, it needs to be of the same sex.
Why is it important to be a Gap Mom or Dad for a College Student?
College students come from all over. I am sure if you check with your local college, you will find students that come from a long distance. They need a place to find refuge while at college.
College students are in that odd stage of life that they don’t even know how to describe. They are fresh out of their home and out on their own but still have restrictions on college. Feel the freedom but are young enough that they desire to have the comforts of home. Also, they want to be self-sustaining but still have questions that they need help figuring out.
A Gap mom or Dad for a college student can provide a place of refuge. It gives the student a place to come to for a hot home-cooked meal. A place that they can crash on a couch on a Sunday while doing laundry and being a part of a family. It can give a college student a place that they see hospitality played out in a real way by making them feel a part of a family that maybe they never had.
It is important that a Gap Mom or Dad for a college student is in the same town as the college to where the student can call if they get a flat tire, find themselves in a tough situation or just need encouragement after a hard test. Gap parents don’t take the place of a parent, it is a support system that only strengthens the family.
How you can find college students that need a gap mom or dad
If you are not involved in a college program, there are several ways you can find out about college students in your area. I know here in Louisville, we have many colleges and there are many resources to connect with students. Here are a few suggestions on how you can connect.
- Call your local college student activities director. Ask if they have a program that connects students with local families. Tell them of your desire to be a support for a college student while they are at college.
- Connect with your local church. Churches in your area that have strong college programs will have students that are there while in college. Talk with the minister or director that is over that program and share with them your desire to connect with a college student and be a Gap Mom or Dad.
- Clubs and Greek Life. Were you in a club or in the Greek life while you were in college? Check these groups out and connect with the leadership. They would have ways for you to impact college students lives as well.
- Restaurants. Yes, restaurants. Do you have a restaurant that you frequent often? College students work as servers while going to college. Keep your eyes out for a server that you connect with and build a relationship.
Ways to Love on a College Student
Over the past 20 plus years, our home has been a place for college students to live, eat, play, do laundry, cry, study, get married, have birthday parties, graduation parties, and many more memories to list. But, the most simple way of saying how to love a college student is to open your home and love them like they are a part of the family.
Let me share with you how we have done it over the past 20 plus years and because of the investment in over 100 students we have celebrated major life experiences with many of them and still to this day count them as a part of our family.
- Invite the college student over for family game night
- Open your home up for laundry day for the college student
- Allow the college student to have a gathering at your home. This gives them a place that they can have a few friends over and feel like they are at home. More relaxed then a college dorm room.
- Remember their birthday and make it special.
- Encourage them during test time. Mid Term, Finals or that hard exam. Check in with them and encourage them along with possibly
- Include them in your holiday activities, especially if they are not able to go home.
- Make a set of freezer meals for your college student.
As you can see, these are just a few ways to connect and love a college student. Please, Feel free and I would love it if you would leave a comment in the comment section on how you connect with college students in your area.
Boundries for a Gap Mom and Dad
Setting boundaries are important before you become a Gap mom or dad is very important. It makes the relationship healthy and protects both the Gap parents and the college students. So, here are some suggestions of boundaries that need to be set.
- Initially set a location other than your home to meet the college student. A coffee shop, a library, or a park.
- Never offer money to the college student. If they have a need and you feel moved to take care of the need, pay for the need directly. For example, if they need gas for their car, take their car to the gas station.
- Parents of the college student needs to be talked about in the positive manner. Don’t talk bad about the college student’s parents. You are not replacing them.
- Make sure your college student doesn’t consume your life and conflict with your marriage, children or extended family.
- Make sure your family is on board with you being the gap mom or dad. This should be something that your whole family is ok with.
Impact a college student one life at a time
This is a great opportunity to impact a life. College students are the perfect ones to impact. As you will learn, their lives are fresh and exciting. College students are out on their own for the first time and need support. You can do this and it will change their life and yours.