A third of parents worry about their kids looking after themselves at university

Nearly two-thirds of anxious parents (64%) have lost sleep after their child has flown the nest to start university – as 32% fear their youngsters will struggle to look after themselves, a study has found.

Some of the top parental concerns as their kids begin this new chapter of their lives include their offspring managing their finances (44%), struggling with their mental health (43%) – and making friends with people who are a bad influence (34%).

And 43% worry their kids will be lonely living away from home for the first time – while 26% of parents also fear they will feel lonely now their youngsters are no longer under the same roof.

But the survey of 2,000 mums and dads, whose children recently started studying at university, or plan to do so in the near future, found that over half (53%) admit their main cause of concern is that their sons or daughters feel “invincible”, like nothing bad will ever happen to them.

Consequently, 23% fret that their kids may ignore physical health warnings that could be serious – while the same number believe they simply will not know what to do if they become unwell.

And 15% worry their children will not have regular medical check-ups, such as eye checks or dentist appointments.

The research was commissioned by Bupa to support the launch of its new Family+ insurance proposition, built around savings on health insurance for families.

Dr Naveen Puri, spokesman for Bupa Family+, which has launched an online guide to help those embarking on this new life stage, said: “All parents worry about their children, whatever their age.

“But it can be especially difficult when they move out for the first time and become more independent – and you are no longer nearby to help them.

“As a child, and even a young adult, when you are unwell or have a health issue, your parents are often your first port of call, or even the ones spotting something is wrong in the first place.

“They are usually the ones pointing you in the right direction, sorting appointments, and arranging medication you might need.

“We know moving out or going to university is both an exciting and daunting time for all the family, and we hope our new Family+ cover, which also insures older children, will help provide peace of mind to parents and their children alike.”

The study also found that , although 41% admit to being anxious about their children flying the nest, 56% also say they are excited for them to begin this new stage in their lives.

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And ahead of them moving out, 63% of parents will teach their youngsters how to manage their finances, while 59% give tips on how to cook healthy meals.

Others show their child how to use a washing machine (56%), how to drink responsibly (40%), and how to deal with mental health concerns (43%).

However, if their child was feeling unwell, 55% reckon they would still be the first port of call for help or advice, despite no longer living under the same roof.

Just 13% think a local doctor would be the person their son or daughter turned to, while 12% reckon they would head online for advice.

More than one in ten (12%) even think their youngster would head home to be looked after until they were well again – although 7% worry they would simply hope they recover, without seeking advice or medical attention.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also revealed girls are considered more likely to take care of their physical (43%) and mental (41%) health than boys (13% and 11%).

Dr Naveen Puri, GP and spokesman for Bupa Family+, where insuring the older child up to the age of 20 results in free cover for any younger children, said: “Our health is so important, and it can be worrying for parents that their child may be unwell when they aren’t there to help.

“Making sure they have the knowledge about what to do in different health situations is a great way of not only ensuring they can look after themselves, but also allows you to relax a little, knowing they have the tools they need.”


  1. They won't be able to afford it (44%)
  2. They will be lonely away from home (43%)
  3. Their mental health (43%)
  4. They won't eat a healthy/balanced diet (38%)
  5. They'll make friends with people who are a bad influence (34%)
  6. They won't know how to look after themselves in key ways, such as cooking or doing laundry (32%)
  7. You don't know who they'll be spending time with (31%)
  8. They won't spend enough time studying (29%)
  9. They won't get enough sleep (27%)
  10. You'll be lonely at home without them (26%)
  11. They won't make any friends (24%)
  12. They wouldn't know what to do if they became unwell (23%)
  13. They might ignore physical health warnings that could be serious (23%)
  14. They'll get too drunk and be unwell (17%)
  15. They won't have regular medical appointments, such as eye tests, seeing the dentist, etc. (15%)
  16. They might have problems with drugs (13%)
  17. They might have problems with alcohol (13%)
  18. They might injure themselves (12%)
  19. They might get pregnant/get someone pregnant (10%)
  20. They won't exercise (9%)

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