You have been living with your child for 18 years and the time has come for her to leave home. Your child's departure to college can leave you with lots of mixed emotions – from pride to loss – but there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for the transition and help yourself let go.
While you will always remain your child’s parent, you are first going to have to recognize that your parenting will have to change now that your child won’t be living at home.
It may be tempting to want to spend every moment with your child these last few weeks before he leaves for college, but it is natural for him to want to spend most of his free time with friends. Give him the freedom to do this but also make sure to schedule a special time – such as a family dinner – where you can catch up and celebrate this next step.
Set aside time to dorm room shop
Shopping for a student dorm room can be a great bonding experience for you and your son or daughter. You will need to be there so that he or she can make practical choices. Also, you want to be sure your child has all the essentials (band-aids and tissues!). But remember to let your child make design choices that he or she will be happy living with – after all, the dorm room is a student's space and a chance to express him or herself.
Talk with other parents
You don’t need to deal with your child leaving home all on your own. Lots of other parents are in the same boat. Plan an event or two for the beginning of September where you can all get your minds off of the fact that there is one less person living in your house and bond over games and dinner.
Send care packages
Even if you live close, send care packages to your child. Who doesn’t love getting something special in the mail? Include favorite non-perishable foods, quarters for laundry, a special note – whatever you want that will help your child feel a little bit like home.
Encourage good financial management
With the freedom of college comes a lot of financial responsibility. Make sure your child understands how to view their bank account balance and balance a checkbook. Educate them about the dangers of debt and credit card use. Encourage them to create a weekly budget based on the total amount they have for the semester, and to stick to it regardless of peer pressure.
Be more flexible with your limits
It will be very hard to set limits for your child from afar, and most likely, those limits will fall upon deaf ears. To ease the transition, try being more flexible with your normal limits these last few weeks your student is at home.
Set a plan for visits and calls
It will be easier for you to deal with your child being away if you know when you will see them next or hear from them. Set up a time to have a regular call with your child – at least for the first few weeks –so you can check in with each other. Also, plan a time for your child to come home for the first time. Columbus day weekend is a great time for that, as long as they won’t be going to college too far away.
Hang in there!
Remember, this is an exciting time for your child, and you helped them grow into a wonderful adult. Be proud of your child’s accomplishments, make sure you tell them you love and miss them when you speak, and hang in there!