I feel this acutely as my youngest child, Madison, leaves in a few weeks for college.
She is ready to go and I am happy for her. I will do my best to prepare her for what lays ahead on her new journey. I will show her articles written to warn her about the dangers of underage drinking, drugs, campus dating. I will be sure she knows how to cook a few simple meals, and when to call me for money and when not to even ask. Also, Read first six weeks of college and Warnings about college drinking
I raised five teenagers and in the process learned a few things about helping them to leave the nest.
1) Believe they will survive. As simple as that sounds many parents are sure their little prince or princess will not be able to handle life outside the walls of the palace. They survive…it just isn’t easy to watch. It is painful knowing they have to eat Ramen Noodle soup because they forgot to budget their money or learning they just figured out that not going to class will get them a failing grade.
2) Respect how hard this is for them. Tell them you are proud of them and be a cheerleader. Ask them what they need you to do to help.
3) Not all teens go away to college. Two of my sons went into the military. This was easier actually because I knew they would have adults with guns monitoring their actions. Another plus was they couldn’t leave when they became homesick and were fed three meals a day.
4) Speaking of homesickness. I have learned they get over it if I stay strong, but undoubtedly they will call often the first 2-4 weeks completely homesick and wanting to come home. Stay strong. They will stop crying eventually... I have found it is better to let them cry in their dorms for a week or two and let them miss home than for me to cry in my bedroom and have them home again.
5) Finally, the most important lesson I have learned is that I need my own life. When a teen leaves the nest it is so much easier if I have a life full of friends, fun, and a favorite occupation. My teenager is happier knowing I am going to be OK without her. So parents…go get a life and let your teen explore their own new life. As we say in Recovery...Your child is on a spiritual journey and you are not invited.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop