If you’re the parent of a new high school graduate, the day that once seemed so far away is suddenly straight ahead: the day your child leaves the nest for her freshman year of college. Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were singing lullabies and changing diapers? Now here your child stands before you on the verge of adulthood, ready to take on the world – without you.
If you have spent the last 18 years building a strong bond with your child, then she likely has a strong inner core thanks to the trust and confidence you have helped her gain throughout the years. While this will help your child immensely as she ventures into a new, more independent season of life, you are still, and always will be, the parent. As difficult as this transition may be for you, try to focus on making the most of this time together preparing your child for college.
There are some things that you can do now during these final precious weeks and months leading up to college that can help create a smooth transition for your child.
1. Work with your child on important independent life skills before she leaves. Does your child know how to do her own laundry? Is she comfortable taking public transportation? Now is the time to practice these skills with your child so that she can accomplish them independently with more confidence in college. 2. Discuss money matters. Colleges and universities are easy targets for credit card companies. Talk with your child about budgeting and share your own budget tips that have worked for you as well as mistakes you may have made. Discuss how credit cards really work, and what the true cost can be of taking on debt at such a young age. 3. Help her learn time management skills. This will be the first time, for most children, when they will be fully responsible for every moment of their time. . . and juggling college calendars can be overwhelming for many freshman. Share your time management skills, question her classwork and activities schedule, and ask your child to brainstorm how she might best juggle these new responsibilities. 4. Outline your expectations. Even though your child may not be living at home full-time, she should know that you are still her parent and you still have expectations that you would like her to meet. Does she have to maintain a certain grade point average to stay in school or keep scholarships? Do you expect to hear from her via phone at least once a week or twice a week? Dos she need to maintain a part-time job in order to stay in school? Whatever your family situation, make sure you clearly lay out your expectations for your child.
5. Practice my empathic process. Try to have weekly family meetings with your child before she leaves for college and use this time to allow your child to share any questions or concerns she has about going away to college.
I remember when my son was preparing for college; I remember as if it were yesterday. It was an emotional time, and as his mother, I felt many conflicting emotions. You may be feeling like this as well, but remember that this time is about your child, and your job, still, is to parent. If you spend this time preparing your child for her first true taste of adult independence, you will both be able to step into this new season of life with trust and confidence.