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How to say goodbye to your college bound child
Letting go of your college bound child
If you have a child going off to college for the first time, you may be feeling anxious, scared, worried...or maybe even happy. It can be confusing at first, but after a little while you will adjust to having your child far away from you, especially if you follow a few simple tips.
1. Reassure your child that they will be fine away from home. Though your child may act ready to leave and excited to start this new adventure, there is sure to be a little anxiety and apprehension. If you are confident in your child's abilities, your child will be also.
2. Don't draw out the goodbyes. Nothing is more difficult for both children and parents than saying goodbye after the dorm room has been set up and everything is unpacked. Make it as quick and painless as possible - like ripping off a bandage. There will be tears - yours and theirs - but that's ok. Just keep moving.
3. Don't hover. Don't call, text, email, Facebook chat, tweet, IM, or anything else. Let your child take the lead on contacting you. Sooner or later they all call home. Once again, if your child senses your anxiety, they will feel shaky as well. By letting them call you when they need the comfort of your voice or a few extra dollars, you are allowing them to manage their feelings without you, which is an important element in growing up.
Now the next step...adjusting to your home with one less person
The hard part isn't really letting go of them, it's adjusting to them not being home. The empty bedroom, the chair at the dinner table, the reduced chaos - it really is quite startling how different things are when a family member is living away from home. There are a couple of things to do to make the transition a little easier for you:
1. Focus your attention on the other children who are still at home with you. Often senior year of high school becomes one long conversation with the graduating child, beginning with college applications and ending with prom dates. Now you can pay a little more attention to younger siblings, who were probably rolling their eyes right around the end of March when college acceptances (and rejections) started arriving.
2. Take the opportunity to do a deep cleaning of your college kid's bedroom. If nothing else, it will make you realize how nice it is to have one room that is neat, clean and organized...at least for the time being.
3. If you have a little more free time, do some of the things you've been wanting to do but haven't been able to. Perhaps you could find a little corner in your college kid's room and make it your reading nook. Or maybe you now have time to do things with your other children that your college student didn't enjoy - sporting events, theater, whatever they are interested in.
There is no way to know how long it will take for any one person to adjust successfully to having a child leave home for the first time, but by letting go, keeping busy and knowing that they will be back for Thanksgiving, it shouldn't be all that difficult.