As the school year begins again, many parents are sending their teenagers off on a new type of journey—a journey to college.
Unlike a summer travel program that only lasts a few weeks, this marks the first time parents are separated from their children for long periods of time.
While sending your children on summer travel programs help all of you ease into the college transition, there’s still a certain amount of anxiety that comes with this new chapter in your children’s lives.
Sure, you trust them—but what about all of the pressures that come with a new, parent-free environment? What if your child needs you and you’re not there to help?
These are the questions that many parents ask themselves when it comes time for your child to move to college. You’re not alone.
Dealing with separation anxiety
Saying goodbye to your child at the end of move-in day is tough. There’s so many emotions mixed together—you’re happy for this next step in their lives and excited for a new chapter, but you’ll miss having them around on a daily basis. You feel like you won’t be as connected and that they don’t need you anymore.
Getting through those emotions just takes time.
When you allow your child to detach, spread their wings, and turn into the responsible adult you’ve raised them to be, you’re showing you trust their decisions and can appreciate their desire to become their own individual.
Will they still need your help? Of course! That part of your parent-child bond never goes away. This is just a new part of their lives where they learn to become more independent.
Tips for transitioning
Sometimes it’s hard for parents to know the boundaries of this new stage in the parent-child relationships. We’ve gathered a few tips to help make the transition period happen smoothly.
1. Don’t call every day
While you might have the urge to call and check in with them throughout the day, giving them some space and only calling a few times per week shows you’re not trying to hover.
2. Plan to visit
If you want to visit, make sure you call and check with them first—don’t make a surprise visit. This shows you respect their new, independent schedule.
3. Send care packages
Sending an unexpected box full of goodies from home is a friendly reminder of the wonders of home life (and a nice way to prompt a phone call.)
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
You needn’t walk on eggshells with your child—keep the communication flowing by asking questions about their classes, roommates, etc.
5. Have a dinner or lunch date
Sometimes, just making the time to come and visit for a quick lunch or dinner visit is healthy for both you and your child (if it’s not too far away). These short dates are an opportunity to get some face-to-face interaction and allow you the time to catch up in person.
Sending your child off to college is hard—but it gets easier. The times when your child comes home to visit will become even more special than when you saw them on a daily basis.
Just remember: Your child still loves you just as much as they did when they lived at home. If anything, they’ll gain a greater perspective of all that you did for them when they lived with you as they learn to do those things on their own. This phase marks a new journey—a journey into adulthood.