Starting college is a milestone. For kids and for their parents.
If your child is going off to college this fall, you may be surprised at how stressed you feel. You're not the one going through a major life transition, right? Actually, transitioning into the college years is a new parenting stage for you, not just a big change for your son or daughter. College means you will be letting go of your chid, turning the reins over to him or stepping back and trusting her to function independently.
Here are 4 ways to prepare yourself:
Help your son or daughter prepare. You will probably instinctively want to help your new college student with the transition, but did you know you will be helping yourself in the process? When you discuss the adjustment to life away from home, you'll feel less worried about your child. When you go shopping for dorm supplies, you'll be assured your new college student has all the comforts of home. Whether you are supporting your child's emotional needs or stocking her up with supplies, prepping with your child helps both of you.
Prepare yourself. Expect to face some strong emotions. You might be sad, lonely, or lost when he leaves. The house will be too quiet. How will you cope with those emotions? Journal, talk to friends and loved ones, or visit with your priest, rabbi, or pastor for support. Don't underestimate the importance of dealing with your feelings.
Fill your time with something new. Sitting in your child's empty bedroom longing to have her home won't help you when she's off at college. If your life is going to feel a bit empty, fill the space with all the things you have been too busy to do. Have you ever wanted to take an oil painting class? Write a novel? Learn to play guitar? Now is the time! Schedule classes now to get started as soon as you return home from college move-in day.
Reconnect with your spouse. Parenting is a time intensive occupation and can leave partners feeling disconnected from one another. Maybe it's been years since your last date night. Plan something special after you child is safely situated on campus. How will you spend time together now that you have the opportunity? Will you travel more? Play more? Plan your next adventure.
Dr. Deuter is a psychiatrist who specializes in the care of emerging adults.