Some Tips for Parents as Their Children Leave for College

When we dropped off my oldest son at college for the first time, I thought I had prepared myself well.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time leaving him and then traveling back home.  Even weeks later, I suffered from a very empty feeling of loss.  My late husband and I had prepared him to be independent and confident, yet we struggled with having him leave us and our home. 

I learned a lot from that transition so that when my youngest son was ready to be dropped off at college, I was able to handle the transition much better.  Here are a few tips that I learned that will help parents adjust quicker as their children leave the nest and head to college:

1.    Even though it is a sad turning point for you, please do not let your son or daughter see you too upset.  Remember that this is an amazing starting point for their lives as adults and you have taught them all you could over many years.  Let them know how difficult is it for you to transition without them, but be very encouraging to them.  The last thing that you should want as a parent is for your children to be overly worried and concerned about you when they should be studying and making new friends as well as planning for their future careers.

2.    Contact them to make sure they are doing well but do not be communicating with them too much.  This is the time for them to learn to be on their own and use the skills you taught them to adapt and solve problems.  Calling, emailing or texting too often does not give your children the space they need to continue learning and growing on their own.  Sometimes they must learn from their wrong decisions.  We have all had to.

3.    Help them if they need assistance to deal with a challenge but do not take over control.  Again, guiding them to make the right decisions is critical in their maturing process.  When you take over complete control in solving problems, they can lose confidence in their own abilities.

4.    Assist them with their monthly expenses but do not splurge on them or allow them to spend money frivolously.  They must learn to live within a budget.  After assisting them with establishing that budget, be there for them in the event of a financial emergency, but again, do not allow them to spend frivolously and then bail them out.  This is their time to learn how to manage their allotted money.

5.    Get busy with your own lives.  Spend more time giving your talents and energies to others, such as your church and community organizations.  You still have a lot to experience and contribute, so do all you can to be active.  Your community needs you.

It will always be difficult for parents to transition from having their children at home to an empty nest.  However, this is a time for you to grow too!  Have confidence in the fact that you have done all you can to raise your children well and that you have much more to give to the world.  Get busy doing that!

Do Not Be Worried about Your Children’s Futures

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:34

As parents, we are often consumed by preparing our children for the future. Whether it be enrolling them in as many extracurricular activities as possible to round out their academic resume or teaching them to be self-sufficient for adulthood, we want them to be completely prepared for everything that the future has to bring.  All this focus on the future, though, can cause high levels of stress for both you and your children and make it very difficult to just bask in the here and now.   

God does not want us to be anxious about anything.  I like what the words on the image for this week’s blog say: “Pray more, worry less”.   No one truly knows what the future will bring, but, as a Christian, you should feel comfort in knowing that God has already established a plan for the lives of each of your children.  

Try doing the following:

  1. Understand that not every trait your child has now, will carry over into her future.  For example, if you notice that your child is forgetful or seems unmotivated at times, it is unlikely that her attitude will persist throughout her life because behaviors change. Of course, you should talk to her about her conduct to ensure that she is fine and motivate her to do better, but do this to help your child in the present, not necessarily for the future. She does not need to hear your theories about the detrimental affects her present behavior may have on her future. She needs her parents’ assistance in dealing with whatever is going on at the moment.
  2. Spend time with your children (uninterrupted by the distractions of technology). This could be a planned outing or an impromptu hangout session. Making time for your children shows them how much you love and value them.
  3. Stop yourself from worrying.  In Matthew 6:34, Jesus taught His disciples about concentrating on what is happening today, and not worrying about what may happen tomorrow. 
  4. Pray.  Daily, ask God for guidance and comfort. 

Helping a Child Who is Afraid of the Dark

One of the most common fears among children is what can happen to them alone in the dark.  Most of us parents have been awakened in our beds by our children in the middle of the night, especially after they have had a bad dream.  Darkness represents the unknown, and since our children have such vivid imaginations, they can come up with the craziest things they believe lurk within it.  

I always recommend talking with your children about their fears.  Find out where these fears are coming from.  For example, what did they watch on tv or as a video or at the movie theater that could have caused fear? Tv programs and movies nowadays are filled with violence and scary looking creatures.  All of these can easily scare a child, especially one who is sensitive. 

When I was about 9 years, I remember going to the movies with my sisters and some friends.  We watched a Dracula movie.   Needless to say, it was their idea, not mine!  I could not sleep that night.  There was a large window in my bedroom and I made sure to put garlic cloves all around the windowsill, as that was supposed to ward off Dracula.  My thoughts about that movie tormented me for a long time and I had many sleepless nights.  My sisters and friends just laughed about the movie, so I never said anything, as I certainly did not want to be laughed at. 

Once you know the source of the fear, you will be able to deal with it.  One of the best ways is to establish a bedtime routine for them. 

Help them learn scripture verses to renew their minds.  This week’s verse is a wonderful one to start with: Psalm 56:3 - “When I’m afraid, I will trust in you.”  Another important verse for these types of situations is 2 Timothy 1:7 - “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and a sound mind.”  A fun creative task that you can do with your children is to write out some verses, and then have your children decorate them with glow in the dark paint and hang them all about their bedrooms.  When they begin to feel afraid, they will be able to see the verses and then speak them out loud to eradicate all fear. 

Additionally, some parents speak blessings over their children at night, before they go to sleep.  To read more about how you can bless your children too, visit this blog.

Be sure to let your children know that you will always be there, close by, and will check up on them during the night too.  This will encourage them to learn to fight their fears on their own and develop confidence in doing so.  But, if need be, you will be there too to help along the way.

Fear of the dark is quite common for children and it is important to help them to learn to stand against fear on their own.   Scripture verses for fighting fear can be used for every issue that arouses fear in a person.  The more your children have renewed their minds with Bible verses, the better they will be able to withstand the forces that come against them as they grow up.

Helping Your Child with the Fear of Failure

It is often said that the fear of failure is now a childhood epidemic.  Fear of failing causes children to not participate in sports and other activities or even try to do their best.  Children learn to make up excuses for not succeeding.  Parents can contribute to their children’s fear too by conditioning their love for their children on their children’s abilities to achieve success.  For example, a parent may indicate to a child through words or behavior that the parent only loves the child if the child is the lead scorer in a game. 

As human beings, we know that failure is a part of life.  How we deal with failure is also an important part of life.  As Christian parents, we should turn to the Bible for guidance.  God knows that we will suffer anger and disappointment but we should not forget that God is always with us, no matter what happens.  Proverbs 24:16 says that “Even if good people fall seven times, they will get up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them.”

There are many examples in the Bible of great men and women who suffered from fears but became overcomers, trusting in the Lord.  One of the best examples for me is Joshua, Moses’ right hand man and a great general.  After Moses died, God told to Joshua to take the people of Israel into the promised land.   In Chapter 1 of the Book of Joshua, God repeatedly told Joshua “Be strong and courageous”.  Why did God have to tell Joshua this many times?  I am certain that Joshua was fearful, even though he had been through many successful battles already.  What God was asking him to do was huge!

God explained to Joshua how he would become strong and courageous.  He said that Joshua was to keep the Bible before him, always studying and speaking it.  Additionally, God told him that He would be with him, wherever he went.  Joshua did encounter some failures, but he always came to God to understand why.  And, importantly, he never gave up.  Joshua is known for being a great man of faith.