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Parent Guide

Off to College Blues
So your child is finally ready to go off to college and you feel that you still have so much more you want to do with them, and so much more you want to say to them.

I'm Not Ready! - My Child's Not Ready!
You feel like your life is entering a new phase and you're not ready.  Well the reality is that YOU feel that you're not ready -  not because you really aren't - after all you've been thinking about this day since your little one was born.  You're  not ready because it's not you that's leaving.  You're staying behind and your child is going.   In some strange way - you almost feel like they're leaving you.

Psychologically the person that stays behind begins to feel abandoned. 

After you finally get over your feelings of abandonment, your parental instincts take over and all of the sudden you feel - Oh my gosh! - I need to prepare my child for the outside world! 

Help Yourself So You Can Help Your Child
From my experience, all this is fairly normal among parents everywhere, so there should be no embarrassment of feeling like this.  To help your child prepare to leave the household and experience the world on their own, requires you to first prepare yourself.  If you aren't resolved to this milestone you wont be able to help your child.

Spend Time With Your Child
You might find it difficult to find time to spend together since your child is dealing with their own feelings of leaving home.  After all this is your child's last everything... Last summer to spend with their old friend, last weekend, last tie they go to the movies at that shopping center, last who knows what - Tuesday?? - everything becomes the last.  Your child is trying to not only savor, but capture the memory, the taste, the smell of every activity so that it will be burned in their minds forever.

Start Early
Don't wait until the week before your child leaves for school to spend time with them.  Months ahead are best, and anything after that is great.  Look for reasons to go shopping together, dine together, walk, run or play together - whatever your child is willing to commit to (though don't be surprised if it's not that much).  With this valuable time that you now have together - listen to your child.  Listen for anxiety, listen to them recount some events of their childhood and their memories of home.  The listening actually will prepare you for their ultimate departure.  Don't lecture.  Trust what you have taught your child in the seventeen or so years will be much more effective than what you can tell them at the mall in forty minutes.

Go home and reflect on the events of your time together.  Remember what your child told you.  Think about how good it felt to spend some time together.  Now do it again,  and arrange some more time to spend together with you child.

This cycle will not help you with obtaining new memories of your child as an adult - but get you you moving in the right direction.  Now, you can help your child because you'll be thinking clearly.

More Quick Articles

What To Do For Your Childs' Move-In Day

No Good-Byes on Drop-Off Day

Send a Hug

No More Lectures

Keep Your Child Involved

Home For The Holidays

Home For The Summer


What To Do For Your Child's Move In Day
Move in day is a day fraught with excitement, hesitation, confusion and well... total anarchy physically, and emotionally.  You can take the edge off this highly volatile day by doing something nice for your child.  Pack a special box of goodies to surprise them when you get to the college.

You can if you want decorate the box, and then slip in a few goofy things that you child can sort thorough later or possibly when they are settled in and you're still there.  Some items you may want to drop in that box might be a goofy t-shirt or cap, candy that you know they like but might be hard to find, or even toys like a Nerf gun, or an assortment of balls like a football, baseball or tennis balls.

Whatever you decide - something like this is sure to take the edge off of the day and will be remembered and appreciated for a long time to come.


No Good-Byes on Drop-Off Day
For about four to six hours, drop-off day is total confusion.  From the time you arrive, to the time you leave, the day is filled with the bustling of every college-bound student virtually moving in at once.  Don't save your good-byes for the last minute. 

Instead of waiting for the last minute tears and hugs, have them at home before you leave - even though you may all be going to the school together.  The privacy you get at home is much more appreciated and heartfelt.

Additionally, consider that you child may now be surrounded with new people and friends and they may be less comfortable exhibiting these emotions at school.

When you leave, do have the good-byes - but you'll see...most of it will be out of your system and your child may not necessarily have to endure all your wailing in public.


Send a Hug
So it may now be a long time since your child left for college.  Wow!  Has it been two weeks already?  Send them a hug to remind them that they are missed.  There are lots of ways to send something like a College Care Package which can be packed with goodies like brownies and cookies.  Or, you can send flowers, a stuffed animal, and include some brownies and cookies anyway.

Whatever you decide, it will be appreciated and more than likely, shared with their new-found friends.  You'll find that these little surprises not only relieve your stress and anxiety - but will bring a little joy into your child's life as they begin to settle in to a new scholastic life.


No More Lectures
Guess what, your child has grown into a college student and you still feel like you should lecture them.  Well, guess again, lecturing time is over and your child sits through enough lectures in college.

At this stage in your child's life you need to become more of a mentor and a coach.

Your child appreciates someone who will listen to them about their life at school rather than lecture to them about what they should be doing.  That doesn't mean that you can't state what you want - you just need to keep in mind that with your child achieving a certain age, they are less restricted in their thinking, and so they may have quite possibly already formed an opinion - or a different opinion from yours.

We as parents somehow can never let go of the past, but the present is so much more important.  Without careful thought, today's present can become the past before we realize it, and if we don't make the most of it now, we will surely regret it in the future.


Keep Your Child Involved
Your child is torn in so many different direction when they get to college that a lot of them really don't know which way is up.  Keep your child grounded and involved in what's going on at home without invading their time.  The rabbit at home had babies!! - Let them know.  Aunt Theresa got rabies!! - Let them know.  In this day and age of electronic communication, a quick, simple and short email will suffice to communicate the news.

Surely though, don't wait for a response - but don't be surprised when they do only because it may be something that actually interested them.  Your child is at school, and sometimes the distance takes them out of the loop, but it shouldn't.  Communicating little events like those described above keeps your child from feeling like a stranger when they come home for the weekend or holidays, and helps reunite the family again without skipping a beat.


Home For The Holidays
So, your child is home for the holidays and you have a list of stuff for them to do that is a mile long.  Not so quickly.  Your child has just dealt with the everyday stress of things like actually trying to get up on time,  dealing with deadlines, term papers, midterms and on, and on.  Do you think they're ready to assimilate themselves back into their old routines, or do you think that they just want to crash and have a few non-microwave meals?  - I guess by now you may have guessed.

Sure it's nice for them to be home, but chances are, things may not actually be the same as before they left.  Your child may want to re-connect with some old friends, or visit some of their old hang out spots.  Provided that none of the things they want to do was originally not in their best interest before they left - help them.  Help them stay in touch with old friends.  Help them sleep off a semester of work.  Help them rejuvenate themselves and then, send them back happy and well rested - because they have another semester of all night video games they need to stay up for.  They have all the same pressures of college life waiting for them that they left behind, and they have the world waiting to be conquered by them - when they are ready.


Home For The Summer
Unlike coming home for the holidays, where it may just be a few days or a week, when your college student comes home for the summer you might have certain expectations and so, you need to have a conversation about your expectations.

The best time to start the conversation would be right before they leave for college, and then anytime after that is just as good.

Whether you want to child to work to gain experience, or you simply want them to earn a few dollars that they can use for themselves, summer vacations are a great opportunity for any college student to begin reaching further.

Talk with your child early on, and get them involved in laying out a summer game plan early.  With this conversation behind you, now both of you can work towards trying to achieve what was discussed and agreed, rather than spending all summer arguing about it.

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