There are lots of things no one ever tells you about becoming a new parent. And there also are lots of things no one ever tells you about becoming a parent of a college freshman. For me, it was how much I'd cry. I cried in the shower so no one would see. I cried so much and for so many days that I was sure someone at work would comment on the telltale puffiness around my eyes.
Besides the depth of emotion that goes along with the process, here are 8 things every parent with a kid starting college should know, words of wisdom gathered from Huff/Post50's Facebook followers who've been there.
1. Try not to call your child more than once a week -- and let them initiate the call.
"Don't contact your kids too often. It's tempting to, especially because we miss them and because we know we can be helpful by reminding them to do something we know they may forget. But it's more important to show we have faith in our children's ability to live independently. It's not a confidence booster to a young adult to say, in effect, 'here, let me help you, I can do it better and more easily.' Plus if your kids believe you're miserable without them it might make them feel guilty. They really don't need to be carrying that around as they embark on their new lives." -- Linda F.
2. The quality of the relationship you had with your child before heading off to college will stay intact.
"The percentage of time devoted to [the relationship] will shift. Let your child take the lead on how often they want to communicate with you. Getting those text messages out of the blue from them sharing an achievement or just to say hi are priceless and they will happen. In fact, when I least expected it, last night my son sent me a message thanking me for helping him pack and getting him ready for move-in day yesterday! Finally, pat yourself on the back because you are a very big part of them successfully getting to this phase of life." -- Kerry M.
3. Your kid's departure will not only be hard on you, but it also will be hard on their siblings.
"Having a child go off to college changes the whole family dynamic. Not only has it impacted me, but it's impacted my husband and my other son and daughter. My three kids have always been thick as thieves and so no doubt they 'feel' the empty seat at the dinner table just as much as I do. To compensate, I've encouraged them to communicate regularly with their older brother and to join us for an upcoming 'parents weekend' so they can see their sibling's new environment for themselves." -- Shelley E.
4. When you drop him or her off, bring baked goods. When you visit, bring baked goods.
"I baked nine dozen cookies and lined his dorm room window ledge with them, and he made a ton of friends really quickly. Also, it's OK to text them from the parking lot as you're leaving. They will not be surprised. Bookmark the school online newspaper, it'll help you know what's going on (especially if your kids are far away like mine)." -- Karen B.
5. Much as you miss them, having them back for the first set of holidays will be difficult.
"You'll need to think about which 'pre-college' rules are important enough to keep -- for instance, basic courtesy to others and cleaning up after yourself -- and which are no longer hills you need to die on (curfews, keeping tabs on their every move)." -- Deb R.
6. Don't be afraid to pamper yourself.
"Plan something nice for yourself the days or the weekend after you drop them off -- a massage, a ladies brunch, a day trip -- to get your mind off your kid leaving and to treat yourself for a job well done in getting them there." -- Liz M.
7. Remember, you may not be getting report cards like you used to.
"In college, kids are considered adults and so colleges do not have to share report cards with parents. They will only share them with the student. (Check out the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act if you don't believe me.) Talk this over with your child before they start college. They can, of course, share this information with you. Talk about what you expect as a parent, especially a parent who's paying for everything. Also, make sure to get the phone numbers of your child's roommates -- just in case." -- Donna L.
8. The hole in your heart DOES heal. And before you know it, they'll be home for a break.
"Just let them know you trust them to make good choices and will love them no matter what." -- Theresa Y.
Remember, you raised your kids as best you can. And besides, it's only 15 weeks until winter break.