Having your child off at college is a bittersweet sensation. Moms and Dads, we understand. You miss them, but you’re also beaming with parental pride.
The college journey is a big deal. Things change for your entire family. And they’ll probably never be quite the same again. While that may sound ominous, don’t fret. Life is about to get a little more exciting for all of you, we promise.
Now that your child is at college, you may have started to feel like they’re slipping away from you already. But that isn’t the case. You never stop being a parent. So, here are some tips on how to be a really awesome influence during your child’s transition into adulthood.
Be proud of yourself
Your baby is getting a college education! We know that your first instinct is to marvel at how amazing your child has turned out. As you should. Getting accepting is a huge accomplishment and they deserve your admiration!
But they weren’t alone in this victory. Give yourself some credit. Be proud of your incredible parenting. Take a moment, close your eyes and congratulate yourself!
Way to go, Mom. Congrats, Dad.
Now, be excited for them
Think about all the exciting experiences that are awaiting your child. They have no idea how much their life is going to change. They have no idea how much they are about to learn or how much fun they are going to have.
But, you do. You’ve been there. You’ve experienced all the thrills — big and small — of becoming an adult. As sad as you might be that your child is away from you for a while, take comfort by being excited for them. It will be so enjoyable watching them flourish.
Enjoy the time you have
When they’re home for the holidays, counting down the days until your son or daughter leaves to go back to school is excruciating. So don’t do it.
You shouldn’t be thinking about how many days until they leave, but how many days you have left to make the most of. There is so much for the two of you to do together. So many lessons you can still teach. So many hugs still to be had.
Put the thought of saying goodbye out of your mind and enjoy yourselves.
That being said, don’t be in denial. They are leaving your protective wingspan and fluttering out of the nest for a while. Learn to let go a little. They’ll be better off for it.
Let your child do their own laundry, cook their own meals. Let them clean up their own messes (the literal and the figurative kind). They’re on their own now and they want to show you how much they’ve grown.
Don’t take it personally
There will be times when your child chooses spending time with friends over visiting home. There will be times they don’t return your phone calls.
All of a sudden, your child has buckets of freedom. From time to time, that freedom means that they won’t be as available to you as you’re used to. Try not to take it too personally.
They still love you, they still need you.
Let them make mistakes
Your son or daughter is going to make a lot of mistakes. Unfortunately, there won’t be a lot you can do to help from the other end of the phone. But that’s okay. Let them make mistakes, fix them and learn from them.
It’s hard, but they will figure it out. It’s part of growing up.
Be there for them
Still, your child knows that you’re always there for them. You know it, too. When they’re stressing over a class or working through a breakup, listen patiently. Offer them the advice they need to hear. Encourage them. They’ll love you for it.
This is going to be a strange and thrilling time for both you and your child. A lot of things will change — but you’ll always be their Mom or Dad. They will always love you. They’ll always want your advice and they’ll always want to make you proud. Embrace the change and watch your child grow into the wonderful adult you helped them become.