I remember the day like it was yesterday….driving my oldest daughter 5 hours and 15 minutes away from home….to her new home…college! Here are a few things I learned along the way- a parent’s survival guide for sending your child to college!
Before the big day arrives:
*If you want to have a special “send off”, do it before you head to the college campus. Maybe you’d like to pray for the college bound student, have a family verse, set goals, or share favorite memories. But, once you hit campus, you’ll be in a different mode and the “magic moment” you were anticipating may not happen!
*Besides the x-tra long sheets and under the bed containers, assemble cleaning products, duct tape (many uses!), lining paper for drawers, and other items for cleaning and organizing your child’s dorm room. Connect with older college students and read blogs to prepare for your child’s new “home”. My oldest daughter and I made 5 trips to Target, 2 to Lowe’s, and 3 to Bed, Bath, and Beyond in 2 days! I was much more prepared with my second daughter!
*Acknowledge the different emotions that your son/daughter are feeling. I would hear other adults say, “Oh, you won’t be homesick- there is so much to do at (fill in the college).” I would counter with, “Yes, you will be homesick…home is a pretty great place. BUT, you are prepared to go off and find your own way. I am always here for you and will be praying for you daily!”
During the move-in process:
*Assess how involved your child wants you to be. They may want your help with the total move-in process… or not! Offer to help make the bed and see where that leads…
*Know when to leave. I know this is really hard…. but there is a time to exit…..for everyone! Be aware and observant of what’s going on in the dorm and with your child. They may be torn between wanting to participate in all the orientation activities and hanging out with the family. Be the one to say goodbye (and quickly put on your sunglasses to hide the tears!)
After you’ve left campus:
*Don’t call, text, or email too quickly and don’t expect your college student to contact you, either. Remember, the school is wise and plans tons of orientation activities to help your child meet people and feel more confident in their new surroundings. Hang back and allow them the breathing room they need to separate from home.
*Find you personal form of contact. My daughters’ had a standing phone date with their Dad each week, while I sent daily emails. Today, texting may be the favored form of communication. And Facetime/Skyping- how wonderful is that?! But remember, you need to take a giant step back and allow your child to form new relationships at college. We advised our 2 daughters not to come home for a visit until after Parent’s Weekend (about 2 months). If they come home right away, they will have to do the goodbyes all over again!
*College Care Packages will never go out of style! Every student loves receiving goodies and notes filled with love from home. And, send extras for the roommate and new friends!
*Ask your son/daughter how you can pray for them. In my Monday email, I would ask them to share any prayer concerns. My Girls would respond with upcoming tests, roommate challenges, etc. This allowed me to serve my child from afar. Plus, it gave me a glimpse of what was going on in their world!
Many of the ideas I used are from an amazing book I discovered, “Give Them Wings: Preparing for the Time Your Teens Leave Home”, by Carol Kuykendall. Check out this great resource!
Now it’s your turn. I know many of you have wonderful suggestions to add to this blog….please share them in the comment section below.
Photo credit: kcolwell / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA