You’ve waited so long for this day–your son or daughter is proudly off at college! In many ways, it is culture shock when a child leaves home for college and parents left behind may react in a variety of ways. If a parent is elated, they may immediately be measuring to turn the now vacant room into that hobby room they have always wanted. If a parent feels lonely and depressed, he or she may tend to sit home more often and wonder what to do with themselves. The goal for getting through this life change is to reach a happy balance.
Keep in touch..
Missing a loved one is okay—especially when you know that they are off bettering their lives. The key is to keep in touch with your student so that you don’t end up missing them too much. Now may be the time to learn instant messaging on the computer, or texting on a cell phone. Staying in contact with your student is very important, as is setting ground rules for how often you are going to communicate – maybe a phone call every Sunday evening when the family is together for dinner and a text or email once or twice during the week. Being able to communicate in a variety of methods gives you more freedom and will likely result in more effective communication with your student.
Try to look for small, inexpensive, yet meaningful things to send the student in an occasional “care” package. Their favorite chocolate bar, a gift card to a local area restaurant or coffee shop is a nice way to show that you are thinking of them and want them to be comfortable in their new surroundings.
A Life Outside of Family
You’ve spent many years of your life raising your child and now, all that hard work has paid off. You deserve some time for yourself, so do something that you have always put off doing. Keeping busy will keep your mind focused and occupied so that you won’t have as much time to spend worrying about your student. If you don’t already have a job, this may be the perfect time to find one, even if it is just part time. You will not only earn some extra money, but may make new friends or learn a new skill.
If working is not for you, but you are still interested in learning, why not take a course or attend a class at a local community college? Look around your community and see what opportunities are right around the corner. Be careful not to overdo it though – sometimes a parent may have a tendency to do too many things. Some parents may go out every night or be so involved in activities that the rest of their family barely sees them because it’s too lonely for them to be at home. Catch yourself if you feel you are starting to overdo it, and change your thinking paths.
Sending a child off to college is as much an adjustment for the parents as it is for the students. Look at this time of life as an opportunity to grow in more ways. You will always be a parent, regardless of how old your student is, so give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, and take the time now to better yourself and your environment.