Sending your child off to college: Tips for parents

2 MIN READ | #blog

The transition to college is not only a challenge for a young adult, but it can be highly stressful for parents as well. Despite the casual jokes about what you’ll do with the extra room and time, sending a child off to college can be charged with emotion, which, if properly handled, can help smooth this seminal life transition for your child.

Easing this transition for your child starts with getting things off on the right foot. Here are some tips that may help make the college drop-off easier for your son or daughter.

Come to peace with the fact that the parent-child relationship is undergoing a radical and profound change

While your child will always be your child, and will need you now as much as ever, you should appreciate that your role is transitioning from “management” to “guide.”

Keep the move simple

If you need a van, you may be overdoing things; dorm rooms don’t have that much space. Consider bringing only seasonally appropriate clothing and pre-ordering essentials (soap, small appliances, etc.) for pick-up at a store located close to school. This can help save on packing and shipping, which is especially important if your child is getting to college by plane.

Having “a talk”

If you’re going to have “a talk” (and you should) about serious issues like safety, responsible behavior, finances and communication expectations, don’t leave it for your child’s drop-off time. Not only will it rush an important conversation that deserves time and mutual interaction, but it will ruin a moment rich with the potential for real warmth.

Discuss finances the summer before school starts

How you decide to handle spending arrangements with your child is a function of your personal values and economic resources, but you may want to consider providing a debit card attached to an account that has a set sum for the full semester, or one that’s refreshed with monthly deposits. Either way, college offers a young adult the perfect opportunity to learn the art of budgeting.

Let your child make final decisions on what to bring

He or she will make mistakes, but it will be a learning experience that he or she will survive. Allowing your child this room will not only provide small lessons, but it’ll serve to reinforce how smart you really are.

You will know when your child is sending the signal that it’s time to go. Saying goodbye is hard, and you may prefer to delay it, but it’s now time for him or her to begin connecting with new roommates. Prepare yourself for the possibility that your goodbye dinner might be canceled for an impromptu dinner with new friends.

Goodbyes make journeys difficult, but you can manage that by focusing on the joy the welcome home will bring.

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