Being a parent is a rollercoaster of the good, the bad, and the in-between.
Sending a child to college is among the most thrilling but emotionally worrying experiences a mom or dad can experience, according to numerous parents and guardians.
“The emotions at drop-off and in the days afterward run the gamut,” said a Boston mom of four sons who has sent her children to college, Mary Anne Donaghey, in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“It’s overwhelming,” she added. “You feel anxiety, loss, and incredible pride – all at the same time.”
In October last year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 61.8% of high school graduates in 2021 between ages 16 to 24 were enrolled in colleges and universities.
If that report is accurate this year, that’s numerous moms and dads embracing their children and bidding them goodbye with different emotions as their children begin a new chapter of their life in higher education, alongside a new opportunity for growth and independence.
So, here are a few smart survival guides for parents who have bid their children goodbye to college this year (from those who have experienced it).
Refrain from Regular Connection
“Many parents ‘come to college’ with their freshmen via technology, talking and texting throughout the day about every class, meeting, and assignment,” Boston University’s Sargent College associate clinical professor, Dory Hutchinson, said.
“You want to promote independence in your kid, and this is part of what college is about – developing this independent life,” Hutchinson added.
“Resist texting and telephoning [the student] every day,” she recommended. “It’s a hard thing to do if you’re not used to it. Try to do it every couple of days, at least in the beginning.”
Urge the Children to Use College Campus Facilities (Do Not Do it for Them)
“Behavioral scientists believe that ‘helicopter parenting’ interferes with normal developmental experiences that allow children to build their own problem-solving skills and competence,” stated the head of the University of Arizona’s Department of Communication, Chris Segrin.
To note, helicopter parenting a college student “restricts those learning experiences.” According to him, parents tend to “dispatch their wisdom” taken from their own encounters to “solve too many of their children’s problems.”
Learn to Support Your Kid in College Differently
Do not be too tight on managing your kid and let them fly independently – that does not mean you love your kid less. Instead, per experts, it might mean giving your love in a different way that makes them grow.
Ahead of letting them go to the college world, urge them to own responsibility for tasks, says Karen Levin Coburn, senior consultant at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. This includes checking their medical and dental appointments and taking over their finances.
In addition, tasks like washing their own clothes and taking care of their car’s gasoline should be a routine ahead of their departure to college.
Let Them Know You’re Still There If They Need You
Keeping your emotions stable in saying goodbye is harder than the practical factors, according to many parents.
“My husband and I got into the car without frozen smiles… I didn’t just cry, I sobbed when we were far enough down the road,” said Donaghey, a mom from Boston.
Let the child feel that whatever path they are taking, you are backing them up.