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!