Parents Have Feelings Too!
You have worked for almost twenty years to arrive at this day! While the focus of attention remains on your son or daughter’s transition, the truth is you’re going to have some of your own transitioning to do. What can you do to continue to support your student and also take care of yourself? Below are a few helpful hints.
Recognize that feelings of ambivalence about your son or daughter’s leaving home are normal.
For most families, particularly those sending a first child off to college, the feelings of separation can be powerful. It is normal to miss them, but to also enjoy their absence. Remember this can be a particularly difficult time for younger children too as they have to adjust to their big brother or sister being away. They will experience a sense of loss even if their relationship with their sibling was rocky at times.
Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up.
It is understandable that you might feel sad, guilty, relieved, apprehensive, or any other number of emotions, while your child is getting ready to go to college. A healthy approach is to talk about them – with your family, friends, clergy, or whoever is a source of support for you. Encourage any children still at home to share their feelings too. Try to keep a balance, however. Too much emotion, too often can lead to your new college student feeling guilty for leaving.
Make overall wellness a goal for yourself.
Especially during stressful times, it helps to get enough sleep, regularly eat healthy, and get adequate exercise. With less laundry to do, you now can make time to do some things that you are especially interested in. When you are feeling good, you are more likely to have the energy to help your son or daughter and be a good role model.
Change, but keep some things the same.
When you get that burst of energy to redecorate, resist the urge to convert your college student’s room into your new exercise suite. When your student comes home to visit, he or she still needs the comfort of having his or her own space in the house and knowing he or she belongs. Go ahead and put the exercise equipment in the living room. It’ll remind you to workout!
Find a new creative outlet for yourself.
Particularly for parents who now find themselves with no more children in the house: Have you ever wanted to write a book? Learn to fly-fish? Make a quilt? Volunteer in your community? Assume a new project or responsibility at work? Travel? Get your own bicycle and ride all over town? Make a list of all the things you intended to do while your child was growing up, but never had the time to do. Now is your chance!