For most mothers, sending your son or daughter off to college fills you with the most amazing feeling of pride. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult and gut-wrenching. It’s great to see your child grow up and become their own person, but that won’t stop the worry and the tears that are sure to come if they haven’t already. You’re a mother, so it’s natural for you to worry. After all, you’ve been doing it for eighteen years. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make the change a little easier for yourself and your child. Here are a few ways that you can do that:
Know Their Plans
The last thing you want is to think that your child has their whole life figured out and then have them come home from four years at college and say “What can I do with a psychology degree?” If your child has only chosen their degree because it seems interesting, and are planning to choose their career at a later date, it’s much better to know this now, so that you’re not worrying when they come home and don’t immediately jump into the world of work. It’s ridiculous to expect every eighteen year old on the planet to have their future planned from birth to death, so if they don’t know what they’re doing yet, then just give them time. If they know what they’re doing, then even better! You have one less thing to worry about now.
Ignore Any Nastiness
As hard as it is for your to see your child leaving home, I guarantee that its one hundred times harder for them. For this reason, most teenagers simply decide to push away their loved ones, to make it easier for themselves when they leave. You’ll find in the weeks and months leading up to your child leaving, they will start to become snappy and outburst at the smallest thing. Try not to take this too personally. All they’re doing is channeling their sadness and anxiety into anger. They don’t mean to do this, so don’t hold it against them.
Be Happy For Them
On the other hand, you child may be incredibly excited to head off on a new adventure, and might not be able to wait to leave. This might be incredibly hard for you, and you may come to silly conclusions, like they can’t wait to leave to get away from you, or that they hate you and they’re showing this side of themselves now that they can leave. This couldn’t be further from the truth; Your child really is just excited for a new chapter in their lives. All this means is that you’ve raised an incredibly independent and driven young man or woman, and not only should you be proud of yourself for this, but you should be happy for them too.
Be Prepared & Don’t Procrastinate
There are a lot of things you need to buy for your kids when they head off to college, and this list only gets longer and longer the more you think about it. There’s all their books and equipment, and endless things for their dorm room. You need to be prepared for this. Write a list of everything your child needs, and start buying things a couple of months before they have to leave. They will likely want to choose things for their dorm room themselves, but books and equipment you can easily grab for them. You may think that putting off this process will delay your child from going away, but it won’t, I’m afraid. All this is going to do is put extra stress on your child, because they have to rush around and buy lots of stuff, so don’t procrastinate.
Let Them Do the Talking
If you’re the parent of a particularly shy, anxious, or socially awkward teenager, drop-off day is likely to be a nightmare for you. You may feel the need to jump in and start introducing your child to new people, negotiating side’s of the room with their new roommate, or looking up part-time jobs or extracurricular activities they could sign up for. This is natural, as you have been doing this for them probably for their entire life, but now is the time to stop. You have to understand that, in a few hours, you’ll be back at home, and your child is going to have to do things for him or herself, so let them start now. It’s their college experience, not yours, so if they want to meet someone, have the left side of the room, or sign up for the college football team, they should be the one to do it, not you.
Don’t Get Judgy
Your child’s roommate could look like the biggest mess on the planet, but that doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to express this opinion. You may think that another student may be a better fit for your child, but you have to keep quiet, and not say anything to your son or daughter. As much as you might be uncomfortable with the idea, your child now has to live independently, which means that they have to form their own opinion of their roommate. It’s also not very nice to judge someone purely on their appearances. For all you know, the girl who you passed on the way in, wearing booty shorts and way too much fake tan, could be your doctor, or even president, in the future. Never judge a book by its cover, and even if you do, never share your judgments with your child.
Let Them Go
You can’t say goodbye to your child, and then text them to ask what they’re doing the second you get in the car to drive home (yes, some mothers do this). Your child is living independently, which means they need their independence. You can’t expect your child to text you back straight away, or immediately answer the phone when you call when they’re trying to live their own life. Let’s be honest; You don’t even do that when they text or call you. Let your son or daughter contact you, if and when they want to or need to. Together, you could agree on a day and time once a week for a Skype call, so that you know you’re going to get some contact from them.
You Can Keep An Eye
If you are really worried or missing them, there is nothing wrong with having a look through their social media accounts, as long as that’s all you’re doing. You should never comment on any of their posts, or post messages on their wall. Not only is this the opposite of giving them their own space, but it’s also pretty embarrassing, and they wouldn’t thank you for it. If they have any problems, avoid getting immediately involved, unless they’ve specifically asked you to. Wanting to handle a problem yourself shows maturity, and you should be proud of your child for that. However, there are instances where you should draw the line, such as when your child is in physical danger.
Preparing to send your child off to college is difficult and emotional, but it only gets worse once they’re there. It can be hard to find a balance between giving your child their own space, and completely leaving your child to fend for themselves. It certainly takes time, especially if you have always been a pretty involved parent, but don’t worry, it will get easier.