HTH: Three Reminders for Our College Bound Kids

The first version of this article appeared on her blog when Kristen Hatton sent her freshman daughter off to college. Now, as her daughter starts junior year, Hatton shares these thoughts with us. Because the truth of God’s Word never changes, our children need to hear it from us year in and year out..

Two years ago I sent my first-born to college. Whether it’s your first child or your last, many of you are about to do the same. If your child is like mine, she spent her senior year more than ready to go. That is up until those last couple weeks of summer when all of the sudden fear of all the upcoming changes and dread of the goodbyes made letting go hard. Secretly, I was kind of happy. I wanted her to miss us. But by then even I could feel it was time.

However, her going off to college did not signal that it was time for me to take a backseat in my parenting. I know for many parents, when kids become “adults” at eighteen, leave for college and begin living on their own, it can seem like our jobs are done. I would argue our jobs are never completely done. Of course our roles do change. But our kids still need us to speak truth into them, especially when they are first heading out.

Because my husband had been a campus minister for nearly eight years, we were well aware of the predominant hook-up and drinking culture on college campuses. We had seen how these realities coupled with newfound freedom left students vulnerable to temptation and sin.  It scared us and we wanted to do all we could to protect our daughter from the allure of what might seem like fun.

It’s not easy talking about such things with our kids (or even thinking about them), but we must. We can’t be naïve and we need to help our kids to not be either. They need to know their proclivity to sin, to be aware of their weaknesses and the temptations they will face. By God’s grace, knowing the true condition of their hearts and the reality of the world around them will help point them live in greater dependence on Jesus.

To that end, before our daughter and her friends headed off, I decided to host a Mother/Daughter Prayer Brunch. It was a sweet time of the girls sharing their fears and us moms praying over them. But I also used it as an opportunity to share three reminders I hoped would stick with them as they navigated college life.

Maybe these words are what your college son or daughter needs to hear too, or maybe these thoughts will help guide you on how to start some conversations before they go.

1. Remember Who You Are
You are a Child of the King – Sons and Daughters. Accepted and Loved. Redeemed by a Savior. Declared Holy and Righteous according to Christ’s perfect record for you. He took on your identity so you could have his. This is your most sure Identity. An identity of infinite value and worth.

  • So on those days when you feel inadequate, like a failure, worthless, alone – Remember who you are.
  • When you are beating yourself up over your sin and filled with regret – Remember who you are.
  • When you are tempted and stressed – Remember who you are.
  • When you are looking to sorority/fraternity letters, a boy/girl, a friend group, a GPA, an experience to give you worth – Remember who you are.

Remembering who you are is knowing His performance merited your perfect standing so your imperfect performance won’t ever change that. Remembering who you are is not a license to sin but an invitation to rest in the freedom of his grace.

2. Be Mindful of your Soul Holes
We all have a God-shaped hole in our soul that only God can fill. The problem is, ever since Adam and Eve believed Satan’s whispered lie that God was withholding something good from them, humanity has bought into the same lie. We seek after other things to fill us, believing happiness and “life” will be found.  Whatever those things are that take the place of the God on the throne of our heart are false gods that can never permanently satisfy.

False gods may be material objects, but more likely idolatry will come in the form of:

  • Seeking affirmation and attention through social media or your outward appearance, including dressing in a way that shows off your “hot” body.
  • An insatiable desire for acceptance and worth, evident in the way you look to secure it through your Greek letters, certain friend groups or a boy/girl.
  • Craving affection, attention or love, made apparent by a willingness to cross boundaries by engaging in the hook-up culture.
  • Falsely attaching your worth to your performance may cause things like grades and leadership to become idols.

Good things become false gods when we make them ultimate things, turning to them for your security and worth. So be aware of heart motives, why you do the things you do and how you try to plug the soul holes.

Seeing sin and acknowledging it honestly is a good thing because it is there that you see your need for Jesus and live more dependently on him.

3. Unite Yourself to the Body

To live dependently on Christ includes connection and commitment to his bride, the church, which he gave to us as a gift.

  • Apart from his word and his people you will drift away. It is imperative that you regularly place yourself under gospel preaching and teaching. It is your life-line and food for the soul.
  • You need other believers involved in your life – not just your peers but older people who can come alongside you as mentors and speak truth into you.
  • There are also people who need you – your gifts and talents. Don’t view the church as what it can do for you, but how you can invest and serve others. Not just when you are older, but now. Look outside of yourself and your own world and invest and serve the body you plug into.

May God give you the desire to live to his glory. And may you always know his deep, deep love for you.

Check Kristen Hatton’s blog for more articles.

Kristen Hatton holds a master’s in counseling and works primarily with teen girls, parents and families. She is the author of Parenting Ahead (2023 release), The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for StudentsFace Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World, and Get Your Story Straight. Kristen and her pastor husband reside in Dallas, Texas and are the parents of three young adults and a son-in-law. Learn more by visiting her website at

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