It is often said that parents do not know which is harder, dropping off their child for the first day of kindergarten, or dropping them off at college for the start of their freshman year. Both occasions give rise to ambivalent feelings – wanting to hold on and let go at the same time. There are ways to help ease these transitions.
A group of SAY - Social Advocates for Youth parents discussed some of the issues they faced when teens leave home. Below are stories, advise and tips shared during this roundtable discussion on how to prepare you and your child for college.
"Parents, don't berate yourselves for grieving when your child goes away. Grieve a little and give yourself time to adjust. It is alright to cry and feel sad when they are gone. However, you WILL get over it; and it's amazing how quickly you do. It took me two weeks of crying and then I was okay, and as time passes you get more and more used to that child being away. The time eventually comes when you look forward to them going back—in a way."
"You really adore your child and love being with them, but you start to realize that times and things have changed and they are no longer your little girl or boy. Rather, they are adults who simply do not react in the same way they did in the past. Once we come to terms with this, it is so much easier to let them go again. Keep in touch via email and phone and see them in person as much as possible."
"I keep emphasizing to my child that her father and I are proud of the person she is—it is not about getting into the "best" college or winning tournaments and prizes. It is about being a good person who takes responsibility for herself and makes good choices."
Simple Stuff But Very Important
Crucial Items Not Often Found on A Typical Packing List
Rather than stuffing clothes in suitcases, take them on hangers in garment bags.
The Final SAY...
It is important to let your teen know that you are still their parent and are there for them. You support them in everything you possibly can, but give them the power to handle their own lives a little bit - they need to learn.
Co-written by members of the SAY Parent Committee/SAY After Prom Parent Committee.