From Coach to Advisor: Embracing the Heartfelt Transition of Parenting a College Student

My heart sank when we left the Airbnb to drop our daughter off at college.  I knew this would be the last time I hugged my little girl under the roof of a home.  She would soon go off and pave the way God had for her.  It wasn’t that we didn’t want this for her.  The thought that our children would not leave and go off to college has never crossed our minds. We have prepped and prepared them knowing this time would come; the problem was no one prepped us! 

These past two semesters have not only been the fastest twenty-eight weeks of my life but also the most difficult.  

Yet, we have learned so much.  It did not take long to see a significant difference between having a high schooler at home and a college student away. I have gone from raising a child to nurturing an adult. I am now guiding, not governing. I am no longer a coach but more of an advisor.   

I no longer make sure she’s awake in the early morning and ready for work. I can’t see her off to work.  There is no sitting in a room, talking about her day and saying good night with a kiss on the forehead.  As the tears come down my face as I write this paragraph, I guess you can gather how I’m handling all of this. 

From the time Cammie was old enough to understand “yes” and “no,” I have been her coach. I have coached her through crawling, walking, riding a bike, and driving (she needs a little more coaching in this area). I have coached her to serve a volleyball, dribble a basketball, and deliver a mean roundhouse kick in martial arts.  I have coached her through interpersonal relationships and the ups and downs of life. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity God gave me to coach the daughter He has blessed me with.  

I am no longer Cammie’s coach. She is facing much of life on her own now. I am more of an advisor. I am here to advise as she faces these new experiences and relationships on her own and with future decisions and opportunities. I no longer hold the same position as I once did, forcing my ideals as a coach upon her.  

There are times when she still asks for her father’s advice. There are other times when I hear her talking with her mom and think, “I better call her tomorrow; she needs some fatherly advice.”  I should not pressure her to do what I say, nor do I want to. I am an advisor, and I pray the years of coaching will take hold along with the guidance of the Spirit and the Word of God.  

So now, as I advise from afar, here are some things I have learned from afar as we close year one. 

1.  Advisors do much more listening than advising.  

I had no idea how much time I would spend talking with (listening to) my daughter.  We talk more now than we ever did when she was home.  It is incredible how much advising can go on as she walks to class.  I love these conversations!  

I am okay with this, but I could do better.  We could all be better listeners.  James tells us to be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).  This advice is for all stages of life, especially the advising stage.  

2.  Advisors rarely get credit for their advice.  

You have heard stories about people who love taking credit for others’ ideas. You know the type: after you make a suggestion, they follow up with, “I’m glad I thought of that.”  

In our advising role as parents, we watch our children make decisions, often based on what you have said but under the premise that they thought of it. When they call to inform you of a great decision they made (maybe yours), it is best to congratulate them on their use of wisdom in making such a good decision. If they make a bad one, it is best to encourage them that those will happen and that they will now learn from it.  

Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law (instruction/advice) of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.”  Solomon could be saying here that our advice as parents becomes a part of the child.  In this way, our advice is seen as a part of them.  Pretty cool!  

3.  Advisors work when their clients have time.

This is especially difficult considering we are in different time zones. When I’m half asleep, I get a call from a wide-awake 18-year-old who has a lot to say about her day and questions to ask. She doesn’t have time tomorrow, and the conversation must happen today, so it does. I know these calls will eventually dwindle off, but until then, I don’t want to miss one opportunity to fulfill my calling as an advisor.  

As Paul says to Timothy, we must be instant in and out of season to reprove, rebuke, and encourage (2 Tim. 2:4:2).  We must continually pray for wisdom as we advise our children from afar.  

4.  The best advising I can do is through prayer.

I love praying for my children.  I love praying specifically for my children.  It is thrilling when I get a call of excitement due to something coming to pass we have been praying about.  Seeing God answer a specific prayer for her is one of the most incredible things ever.  

These calls and conversations can be the fruit of much anxiety. So, it is not only praying for her but with her. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer…” (Phil. 4:6). 

5. Advisors can guide, but only the Holy Spirit can lead. 

From the time Jesus was filled with the Spirit, He began being led by the Spirit.  Luke 4:2 says, “Jesus was led into the wilderness.”  Paul tells us that if we are the children of God, we will be led by the Spirit of God. Many times, our advice is not to get our children to listen to us but to help them listen to God. 

I am a coach, and I love coaching. This transition has removed me from my comfort zone as a father, but now advising her upon the principles I have instilled as a coach has been incredibly exciting. I would not trade it for anything in the world! 

For more information or to find other blogs from Treg click here.

Treg Spicer

Treg Spicer

Treg Spicer is the Senior Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Morgantown, West Virginia. He also serves as the President of the West Virginia Christian School Association. He is husband to Carrie and has four children.

Basketball Season is Done! 

Fortunately, God does not keep track of our fouls.  Could you imagine?  We would all be watching from the sidelines.  But God repeatedly tells us regarding sin, “You can’t do that.”   Much like players who commit fouls, we make excuses and blame others.  God, who is not a referee but a righteous judge, will not and can not allow His children to get away with fouls (sin).  

Read More »

Lead to Succeed

My friend, Dr. Chris Sanchez, shared this article by James Scott regarding areas where pastors are failing their churches.  I will add my thoughts to his article, but my focus

Read More »

Leave a Reply

About Me

Treg Spicer is the Senior Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Morgantown, West Virginia. He also hosts the Art of the Assistant Podcast. 

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletter

Thank you for visiting!