Congratulations! Your son or daughter has been accepted to a great school and is off to college this Fall. You’re proud and happy for them… but you’re probably a bit anxious as well, and you may suddenly feel left behind.
Going to college is an important transition point in the relationships of parents and students, especially when that college is out of the city or out of the state. Suddenly, parents are no longer the primary caregivers for their children – the child is!
How can you make the transition easier?
Start The Summer Before
Make a conscious effort to allow your child to be self-sufficient. This may include several things – having your child do his/her own laundry for the first time, relaxing curfew rules, or giving your child money for school supplies and letting him/her do the shopping themselves.
Along with this comes a conscious shift of thinking of your child as an adult. Ask their opinion on matters that you haven’t before, such as conflicts at work you’re experiencing or where you should go for family vacation at Christmas. Refrain from nagging them about being out late, or spending too much money with friends. These are things you’ll have no control over when they go to college, and it’s better that you and they should be comfortable with this earlier instead of later.
Develop Non-Family Interests
It’s common for parents to become depressed when their children go to college. They may feel the “empty nest” syndrome, especially when they’ve been child-focused during the high school years.
To battle this feeling, take up new hobbies and activities that aren’t family related, spend more time with your spouse without discussing your children, and expand your circle of friends to people who don’t have children the same age. This support network and variety of interests will keep you from calling your college student every night out of loneliness, and making them feel that you may not trust them.
Look Back on Your Child’s Successes
If the anxiety of your child going away to college alone has you overwhelmed, take a moment to review all the great things he or she has done over the years. It may help to pull out family albums, look at his/her awards, or talk to other family members in a bragging session.
Once you recall all the times he or she has worked hard, studied well, accomplished something difficult, or won an accolade, it’s easier to remember that you’ve raised a great kid who you can trust is going to continue to make the right decisions and succeed in college.
Author: Rhonda Manns, A2Z College Planning