If you love them let them go.
This phrase is tired, but it holds value. The process of allowing your child to venture out on their own for the first time is necessary, though certainly easier said than done.
Just as this time is both exciting and scary for young adult students, it may be for their parents as well. For the student, it is a new phase of independence and responsibility. For the parent, the newfound independence can feel lonely and trigger a grieving process. The transition from seeing your child daily to perhaps not at all is understandably difficult. As a parent, you may feel overwhelmed, saddened, worried, or stressed. This is normal, and there are many avenues to deal with these emotions in ways that don’t strain your relationship with junior.
Ease the Empty Nest
As your child’s moving truck is pulling out of the driveway, you may be struck by the Empty Nest Syndrome. While this isn’t technically a medical condition, it doesn’t make it any less real or significant. ENS can leave parents feeling anxious, depressed, or manic. The sudden lack of dependence can be agonizing for some, and may even lead to the decision to have more children.
One way to cope is to remain in contact with your child through text message, email, phone calls, or lunch dates if they live nearby.
Alternatively, you can view this as an opportunity to focus on yourself. The bad news is also the good news: your kids are gone! This is your time. Continue your education, take a pottery class, join a fitness center, or try yoga. Have a girls’ night with your friends or go on dates with the hubby like you used to. Do the things you weren’t able to do before.
Beware of Overbearing
While trying to maintain regular contact, keep in mind that your college student still needs space to explore herself and her independence. Do not become overbearing as it could strain your relationship. Checking in once in a while is great because your child will probably still want your contact and support, but don’t make it a daily thing. Between classes, studying, work, and having a social life, your young adult may have become very busy! Over-intrusiveness may convey a lack of confidence in their abilities to succeed independently, and can strain your relationship. Trust that they will reach out if and when they need you.
Set Healthy Boundaries
This step is important if you are a parent that struggles with codependency. You may need to set boundaries for the both of you. For example, limit the number of times you call per day/week, or ask them when the best time to call would be. Don’t drop in unannounced. They may need help with some things, but don’t hold their hand through everything. Let them do their own paperwork, allow them the chance to talk to campus advisors if they have questions, and (please) fight the urge to contact their professors.
Think about what you would like to do financially. Should they have a monthly allowance or obtain a part-time job? Will you pay for everything in exchange for specific grades? How much should they be responsible for? Allow both of you this chance to grow.
On the day you drop your kid off at college, go do something for yourself. This is as much their time as it is yours. Don’t think of it as a loss, but as a growing season for your individuality.
About the Author: Faith Ellis is a Digital Marketing student and owner of Ladies, Lattes, and Lifting. She has a strong passion for writing and fitness and dreams of a career in content writing. Faith lives with her husband and furbaby
in North Carolina, and enjoys local food and travel in her free time.