Having your child begin his or her college career can be a stressful experience for parents, especially if your son or daughter hasn't lived away from home before. During this important time of transition for the family, many parents put their own feelings and reactions on hold while helping their child prepare for college life. Attending to your own emotional needs, however, as well as your child's, will go a long way toward helping everyone feel comfortable with the challenges that going to college represents.
Read below to find some coping strategies and positive reminders as well as learn what you can do to help your child from a distance that might help you over the next few months. We hope these ideas and suggestions will be helpful to you in dealing with some of the difficulties parents experience when their child goes to college. The first year at Henderson State University is a tremendously exciting time, both for students and their families, and we hope and trust that you and your child will have a rewarding year!
Coping Strategies and Positive Reminders
1. Recognize that conflicting feelings about your child leaving home are normal.
For many families, this process of separation is difficult. It is normal to look forward to the relative peace and quiet of having your active older adolescent out of the house and having the place to yourself, or being able to spend more time with your younger children.
2. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions surface.
There is little benefit in pretending that you don't feel sad, guilty, relieved, apprehensive, or whatever feelings you do have, while your child is getting ready to come to college. You probably aren't fooling anyone by trying to hide your reactions; a healthier approach is to talk about them with your family, friends, church, or whoever is a source of support for you.
3. Make "overall wellness" a goal for yourself.
Especially during stressful times, it helps to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals regularly, and get adequate exercise. Spending some recharging time-doing the special things that you especially like-is another step toward wellness. If you are feeling good, you are more likely to have the energy to help your child and be a good role model.
4. Remember that, for your child, coming to college is a tremendously important developmental step toward full adulthood.
It represents the culmination of the teaching and learning of 18 years or more. This is the time when your hard work will show itself in the form of a framework that your first-year students will use in beginning to make independent choices. Many parents find that it helps to focus on the fact that providing your child with this opportunity is a priceless gift. Be proud of yourself!
5. Find a new creative outlet for yourself.
Especially parents whose last or only child has moved away to college find that taking on a new challenge is an excellent way to manage and channel their energy and feelings. Have you ever wanted to write a book? Learn to fly-fish? Travel? Get your own bicycle and ride across town? Make a list of all the things you intended to do while you child was growing up, but never had the time to do. Now is your chance!
What Can I Do to Help My Child From a Distance?
Of course, you are still a parent to you college student, and he or she does still need your support and guidance during these years. Here are a few ways you can express your caring and enhance your child's experience at Henderson State University.
1. Stay in touch!
Even though your child is experimenting with independent choices, he or she still needs to know that you're there and are available to talk over both normal events and difficult issues. Make arrangements prior to each school year, in agreement with your child, to write, email, or call on certain agreed-upon times.
2. Allow space for your college student to set the agenda for some of your conversations and interactions.
It can even be normal and developmentally appropriate for some college students to want little contact with their parents. Some students choose their most important relationships to be with peers and/or significant faculty. This is an important part of gaining personal identity and autonomy and can assist the college student in being able to relate to you.
3. Be realistic with your college students about financial matters.