It's August and many of your teens are heading off to college in a few weeks. You and the college-bound kids are anxious, excited and admit it, shopping like it's nobody's business. I see you and your teens loading up shopping carts with sheets, comforters, toiletries and and various other sundries on your collective lists. I remember those shopping trips as a teen leaving for college myself and as a mother shopping with my teen. You and your kids are focused on making sure that they have everything that they might even remotely need even though they can continue shopping when they are at school; right? On a personal note, I remember buying eight bottles of shampoo and conditioner before I went to college. I guess it reduced my anxiety knowing that my hair would always be soft and clean.
College-bound kids worry about a lot more than their shopping trips. Many of them are talking about and considering how they can reinvent themselves. After all, college is a fresh start and the perfect place to do that. There are a number of potential reinvention scenarios that you may want to gently talk about with your teens. Consider the following:
1. The child/teen who has always been labelled as shy (certainly not among my favorite words) now has the opportunity to lose that label. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet new individuals who have no idea that they ever carried that label. Your college kid will have many chances to find their people and their tribe. This is a wonderful time for labels to be dismissed.
2. Your daughter or son who was referred to as the lazy one in your family will be able (I hope) to start fresh and lose that label. Your formerly lazy kid may become a superstar. Lots of good things can happen during the reinvention process.
3. Your kids have the perfect opportunity to drop their nicknames. After all, who really wants to be called Butch or Twinkle after a certain age.
While your teens are busy reinventing themselves at college you may want to consider reinventing yourselves as adults. Perhaps, you can now start to take that exercise class that you always thought about but were too busy to try. Or, maybe you had a hobby that you gave up when you had kids. You may want to revisit that hobby. This may be the time to get reacquainted with your spouse or even to start dating again. Your college kids not only need to know that you are doing okay without them at home but they will also benefit greatly if they see that you too are thriving. Remember that it is your job as parents to give your kids the message that adult life is good and worth living. Even when they are at college you are still their most important role model. They won't tell you this but it is certainly true.
Keep in mind that the child you sent to college may come home during break having grown up a bit and having made some wonderful changes. And, when your child comes home s/he may see a happier and improved version of you. Let's toast to positive life changes and growth!