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College is a rite of passage not only for your children but also for you. When they
leave, you will need to find new ways to be a supportive, loving, and involved parent.
Here are some tips to make it the transition easier for you and your child.
You will be tempted to call or visit often. Make it easy for them to want to get in
touch with you. Consider texting, e-mailing, or instant messaging your child. They
already use the technology to communicate with their friends, so it won't be such
a burden to get back to you the same way. If you insist on getting them on the phone,
pick one day a week at a specified time you will call them so they can be ready for
Your child is going to be very busy with their new role as college student: more challenging
academics, more social opportunities, and inevitably more stress. During the first
few weeks they're away, keep conversations quick and light-hearted.
Listen carefully to your child. If you sense they're homesick and want comfort, then
step in and offer help. Let them know you will always be there but also advise them
to use campus services like academic and resident advisors and school counselors.
You want your child to get involved in their new community and if they're using you
as a crutch they won't be able to do that.
Students love to pick up a gift from home at their mailbox. Think about what they'll
need at school: snack foods like microwave popcorn and granola bars, quarters for
the laundry machine, coffee shop or restaurant gift cards. Include a personal touch
with some photos of the family. If they're far away, send the local goodies your student
loves or the town newspaper.
Make sure you know what classes your student is taking and ask him or her about it
periodically. Communicate your interest but don't pressure them to tell you about
all their quizzes and assignments. If you let them know you're excited about what
they're learning (not just what grades they're getting), your child will be happy
to share with you.
Even if you are only a few towns away, let your child know well in advance before
you show up on campus. It's their turf now and you don't want to be intrusive. Plan
a dinner or a brunch and make sure you're not stepping on their social life with the
When you visit, be sure to ask your child to invite a few of their friends with them.
They'll probably be more than happy to get the free meal and this will give you an
opportunity to become more involved in your child's life.
It wouldn't hurt to have a frank, open conversation about drinking, partying, and
how to balance college life before your student leaves home. Recognize once they're
gone, it will be impossible for you to keep constant tabs on them. If you hear your
child talking about drinking or otherwise irresponsible behavior, take stock of whether
what they're saying is serious or if it's just normal college student activity. Trust
that you've taught them well and encourage them to make responsible choices and have
fun in moderation.
If your child going to college leaves you with an empty nest, take time to enjoy the
hobbies or activities you've been putting off for their whole childhood. Plan special
outings with your partner. If you have other children at home, make a little more
time to do things they like.
Create a support network among your friends who have college aged children. Bounce
your concerns off of them before you take them to your student. You'll probably find
you have a lot in common with them as you enter this next phase of your child's life.