Here are a few of our suggestions to keep your relationship
alive and kicking once they've left for school. We've also included a few things
you can do now that they've gone.
Keep the lines of communication open -
Be a good listener, don't interrupt too often.
Show interest in what they're doing but don't overwhelm them with questions.
Have an open mind but, maintain your standards. If your family has always
said something is wrong, stick to your guns, it will teach your child character.
Be encouraging, they need you behind them even if they don't admit it.
How you can win the battle over homesickness for them
Stay in touch. Phone calls, letters, and above all care packages are really appreciated.
"doses of home" will help stave off homesickness.
Make the most of visits home. This means don't argue while they're home. Make
the visit as pleasant as possible. Do something with the whole family.
What you can do now that they're gone -
Well if you still have 4 more kids in the public school system you can just
keep on plugging along. Explore your new found role as the parent of a college
student but don't neglect your younger children or their feelings.
If this was your only or last child to attend college you're going to have a
lot of free time on your hands. Time previously spent at parent-teacher
meetings, school games, and driving them to various events will now be yours
again. Here's a couple of suggestions we got from some parents who've already
been through this "time glut" phase of their life.
- Finish off the housework. Now that you are no longer spending your weekends
helping to write papers on western civilization you can now paint the house or
finally get that kitchen remodeled.
- Read. Doesn't that sound wonderful? You'll finally have time to read again!
- Spend time with your friends. You can now have time to make luncheon dates
and just sit and talk.
- Take classes. Explore your skills or develop new ones. Take this opportunity
to dust off some of your old ambitions.
- Volunteer your time. There are plenty of programs out there from the Red
Cross to Habitat for Humanity who would love to have you on board.
Dealing with your feelings -
There are many feeling you may be experiencing now that they're gone. Some
will be positive and others negative. Learn to deal with these feelings and
support your daughter/son.
Excitement - They are on they're own now. Good for them, it will be
fun seeing how they handle making their own decisions in the real world.
This is a great attitude to have. Your daughter/son will be glad to have you
behind them with this kind of attitude.
Hope - They are making a new beginning. I hope they make the most of
This is also a good attitude. Just don't be pushy about how these are the
"best years of their life." College is a sometimes difficult and
stressful time in a young person's life. If you keep insisting this is the best
time of their life, they're really going to wonder what adulthood is like.
Pride - They have goals forward thinking enough to want to go to
college and they have the ability to be accepted.
Good for you, your obviously a supporting parent. However, if your child was
reluctant about the college decision, don't worry about it. They will realize
that the educational training they are receiving now will benefit them now and
in the future. Hopefully they will also realize that the life skills they gain
through the college experience will also be helpful throughout the rest of their
Uncertainty - Will they be successful. Will they make friends? Will
they beliefs/values I have instilled stand the test of peer pressure? Will
our relationship become more distant?
This is an understandable feeling. Nobody can be for sure-and-for-certain
that their child will have the time of their life at school. Support them and
trust them. They will usually pay you back with a good relationship.
Sadness - They are gone, totally separate from me, the rest of
the family, and their friends. That must be hard on them.
They're probably thinking something more along the lines of: "I'm gone,
now I can be who I want to be." Keep this in mind when you start
empathizing about how homesick they must be. If they are homesick you will only
make things worse. You will often experience a sense of loss, especially if they
are your first, only, or last one to leave the home. Don't worry, try to
get busy, that will make it easier to face your "empty nest."
New and exciting experiences will be opening up for them and they are
learning to make decisions on their own. While they are becoming more
independent this isn't merely because of college, they are maturing, as all
adults must. They must learn to accept the consequences of their actions and
learn from them.