When Your Child Leaves for College
Your child’s move to college is a momentous event. For eighteen years you have striven to make it to this day, the day when your child is ready to leave the house and begin learning to enter the adult world. Though your responsibilities do not end and you will forever define yourself as a parent, your role is changing. Most of the responsibility for your child’s well being has shifted from your shoulders to theirs.
If you have not prepared for this change, then it can hit you hard. The attachment to your child does not end when they leave, after all. You may find yourself struggling to cope with the change, feeling empty and even depressed if you find that you cannot. But there are ways to ease into this transition and to lessen its impact. After all, your child’s move to college is a moment of success for you as a parent. It is something that you should be able to celebrate and appreciate.
Begin Preparing Early
During your child’s teen years, it will become apparent that they are getting ready to become independent. It’s a natural part of a teenager’s development that is signaled by getting a driver’s license or a job, even dating. Let those signs be a wake up call to you. Its time to get ready for the final break. There are two things that you will want to focus on here. The first is preparing your child for this change.
Make sure that your child will be ready to handle independence when they get there or you will never know a night of peace during their collage career. The second is taking back center stage in your own life. This means taking a hard look at your life and your goals in order to adjust them so that you are once again the priority. You may find that you pick up hobbies and interests that have fallen by the wayside over the years. You may choose to throw yourself into a new degree or career. You may decide to begin traveling with your spouse. But by the time your child leaves the house, you will want to be fully engrossed in your own life.
Accept the Emotions
Your child’s departure will leave a hole in your life; no matter how prepared you think you are. It is important that you recognize that fact and accept the feelings that come with it. Trying to deny yourself the right to grieve or feel guilty or even get angry will only exacerbate the negative emotions. Instead, give yourself permission to feel your emotions and then move on to more positive thoughts and actions.
Make a point of keeping in touch with your child, while refraining from smothering them. Their happiness and successes will help you to put your feelings into perspective and cope. Over time, you will find that your preparations have worked, that you have enough new interests and activities in your life to excite you while still leaving room for your child’s new position in your world.
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