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Staring Down an Empty Nest

Staring Down an Empty Nest

5 Tips to Prepare For College Drop Off Day

So, your baby is leaving for college. Congratulations! You have successfully navigated roughly 18 years of parenting, gotten through high school and on the path to adulthood.

During this transitional period your child will have to claim their independence, which can an exciting and scary for both of you. But, with the right preparation you can cut back on your stress by experiencing your feelings in a healthy way and building confidence your college-bound kid is prepared to tackle whatever the future holds.

 1.Let Yourself Feel Your Feelings 

Your feelings are important; they serve a purpose in your life. According to Clinical psychologist Jennifer Taitz, PsyD, even negative emotions are there for a reason and should not be ignored. You might have conflicting feelings about this new life stage. Watching your child flourish is sure to make you joyful, but, at the same time, it’s ok to feel sad or nostalgic. Let yourself feel and process your emotions, just remember not to overwhelm your child or make them feel guilty for growing up. Junior is bound to be having mixed feelings too and it’s important to give him distance if he needs it.

2.Give Them Confidence, Give Yourself Peace of Mind

College is a time of newfound independence for many students. They will have to learn to care for themselves. You can give yourself some peace of mind and build your child’s confidence by using this time to teach, or re-teach, some basic life and self-care skills. Go over things such as: laundry, food safety, cooking, low level car maintenance, and basic finance and budgeting.

3.Take A Step Back

Helicopter parenting, according to Hara Estroff Marano in Psychology Today, can be detrimental to your child’s development. It can be easy to get carried away; your baby is about to spread his wings for a serious test flight. You both need to feel secure in the ability to navigate these new responsibilities. Have your child take the lead on the preparations for departure. This includes spear heading any shopping, necessary calls to the school, buying books and setting a schedule. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely uninvolved, just let your child work things out and be there to offer guidance and assistance. This will help you both know new challenges are manageable – and you will always be there.

4.Explore the New City

Go for a quick drive or walk around your child's new city and campus. This will help provide a lay of the land. It will also give you peace of mind to see you child has access to grocery stores, libraries, a hospital, and drug stores to help him through the year.

5.Negotiate a New Normal

Parenting a college student is a new frontier. Your child will need space to develop independence, but still need guidance and help from time-to-time. You will need to find a new balance and allow your relationship to develop and navigate into your child’s adulthood, according to Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.. Stay in touch and remember to keep your child involved in big family activities such as holidays and birthdays, but be prepared for your little baby to want space to explore. Even though your kiddo will always be your child, get ready to start the process of changing your relationship as he grows older.