High School graduation is behind us and college is about to start. For those of us launching our teens off to college for the first time, we have about two months to review skills, discuss expectations, spend family time together, shop and pack. Doing this with thought and planning will help make the transition a smooth one.
You may have plans to spend every waking moment with your soon to depart student only to discover they want to spend all of his/her time with friends. Support their time with friends while planning some meaningful time with family. Try to also spend alone time with your teen, perhaps giving them the option of picking the activity.
Some teens are better able to separate if they’re angry. They may battle with you and/or siblings more often, feeling it’s easier to leave family with whom you’re angry. Others may have meltdowns, be cranky or even clingy. Try not to engage in arguing but to give them some space while understanding that change is stressful and going off to college is scary. Reassure them they are ready.
There are some skills your student will need to have at college that may not have been emphasized while living at home. They will need to do laundry, iron, make a bed, clean, and manage money and time. Make sure they feel comfortable doing these things by giving them guidance and supportive instruction.
Discuss financial expectations with your student. Where will their spending money come from and how will they access it? Who will pay for books, food outside of the meal plan, entertainment? It’s best to develop a budget with them and make sure they know how to use a credit card, ATM card, and write a check.
Talk to them about how and how often you will be in contact. Some parents and students prearrange a day and time for weekly phone calls, some text as needed, others FaceTime or Skype. Some parents tell their students they will leave the frequency of contact up to the student but will let them know if it’s not often enough for the parent.
Help your teen decide what to take with them to school. Let them pick their bedding and decorations for the dorm room and be there as a guide instead of running the show. Be supportive of their choices. Go shopping with them as that’s a great way to spend time together.
Try to control your emotions. Certainly let your child know that you’re going to miss them but not to the point that they will worry about you when they’re gone. Let them know you trust them and the decisions they will make.
Remember, all your years of hard work have led up to this point. You’ve taught, they’ve learned. Show your love and trust.
Best of luck to all of you!