- Family and Parenting
How to Cope When Your Child Goes to College
Soon it will be the season that marks the beginning of the school year: Fall. For the thousands of new high school graduates around the globe that have chosen pursue their education at a school away from home, their will be an equal number of parents who are left waving good bye as they drive away from the college campus. If you are one of those parents, I am writing this article for you. College marks a new chapter in your child's life. It will be a new experience in a new place full of new people and it will undoubtedly test the boundaries of what your son or daughter finds as acceptable behavior. But as they leave home to finish their education and start that new chapter, you will be left at home, wondering how to fill the void that will suddenly appear.
You'll Probably Miss Them More Than They Miss You
The first thing that you need to understand is that you will most likely miss your son or daughter more than they miss you. It sounds cruel, but it's understandable if you think about a few things. While you are home, still following the same routine that you have been for the last 18 or so years of your child's life, they are out in a completely new environment. Everything is different for them: they are eating at different times, making new friends, juggling school and a social life. But you are still at home, still making dinner and still doing the laundry. And this is the reason that you will feel that void more than they do. Whereas their whole life has changed, yours is exactly the same, minus them. If you come to understand this, you will realize why they will seem to be having an amazing time while you are at home crying every night.
So what can you do? You need to find something that can fill the void. Many parents wrongly think that by filling the void they are essentially "replacing" their child. This is not true; you are finding things to do that will take your mind off of your child for a bit each day. Meet with other moms or dads in the area to hang out. Chances are they are experiencing the same issues and want to have something to do as well. Find a hobby; learn a new craft; travel more; reconnect with your spouse. Their are so many things to do, you just need to go out and find them!
Everyone Copes Differently
You probably know some other parents who act as if nothing has happened. They may even be glad to have their child out of the house. It's okay to grieve differently, and it is healthy for you to do so in your own way. You may, however, want to talk to them as they can probably help you think of ways to stop feeling lonely.
Keeping In Touch
This part of the equation takes a lot of balance. Sometimes parents make the mistake of trying to contact their child every night and talk for hours. The truth is that they can't do that at this stage in their new experience. They should be out making friends, not on the phone with you all night. However, it is understandable that you want to stay in touch and be with them as they make this transition. For this reason, you should set up a time each week that you can make a phone call. You may also want to talk about doing video chat with Skype (learn how to set it up here) and then you can have a face to face conversation.
College is a big time for your child. You want to be there for them, but also stress that they are more independent now. It is difficult for you, but if you can find ways to fill the void in your life, it will be much easier, and you will have much more to talk about with your son or daughter.
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