Tips for Parents

How to Cope With Changes in Your College-Going Child

The ties that bind are the ties that are strongest; they’re invisible, yet they’re the ones that we find hard to break. The bond that parents share with their children is unique; it varies from parent to parent, child to child. That’s why parents have a tough time letting go of their children – their heartstrings are tugged when their child takes his/her first steps, when they board the school bus for the first time, when they go off to college, when they get married, and when they become a parent for the first time. The dynamics of the relationship change with each change in the child’s life, and going to college is a momentous occasion that both parents and children will find sentimental.

It’s a big step for both of you when your child is leaving home for the first time — he/she is no longer a baby but an adult going off to college, away from your care and protection. You’re going to find it tough to let them go, and they too are going to miss you terribly initially. However, kids being kids, your child will probably adjust to their new environment faster than you’re able to adjust to their absence, and because of this, you could have a hard time dealing with what you perceive to be “changes” in their behavior and attitude towards you. At this point, you need to remember that:

  • Your child does not love you any less just because he/she loves college: Don’t be offended or hurt if your child does not call or write home often. They’re just having a good time at college, a totally new experience for them, and are slowly outgrowing their dependence on you. Always remember that just because they love college life, it does not mean that they love you any less.
  • It’s a good thing that he/she has adjusted well to college life: You should be happy and satisfied that they’re getting on well in college; it means you’ve done a good job of being a parent — you haven’t tied them too tightly to your apron strings. Also, if they miss home too much, it could interfere with their ability to concentrate on their studies and cause depression and stress. So tell yourself that it’s a good thing that they don’t seem to miss you too much.
  • You mustn’t interfere too much in their lives: Don’t be a nosey-parker and demand to know all that they’re doing in college every time they call home; and don’t badger them with calls if they own a cellphone. Give your child room to grow emotionally and mature on their own. The longer you hold their hand and spoon-feed them, the longer it takes for them to learn how to take care of themselves. So learn how to let go, and wait for your child to come to you for help and guidance if they need it.
  • You now have time for yourself: And finally, do what it takes to raise the quality of your life instead of moping around and missing your child. Get in touch with your social circle, do the things that you love, spend quality time with your spouse and other children, and stay busy at all times. This helps you from missing your college-going child too much and prevents you from obsessing about what they’re doing. It’s harder to let go than to hold tight, but as a parent, there are times when you need to do both — it’s your responsibility to know when to do what.

This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online colleges.