September 27th, 2011

Mom and Dad, Get a Life

You’ve been looking forward to going to college for a very long time. Years, in fact. The idea of having a new set of friends, entering a world that is completely different from the one you came from and which is made up of all kinds of people is very exciting. You’re about to really start your own life, separate from the one that you had in high school which may or may not have been great, but which will definitely be different.

However, while you’ve been looking forward to this day, the people who may not be quite as enthusiastic about it are your parents. Sure, they wish you a successful future and a happy college experience. But their lives are about to change as dramatically as yours is — your absence from the household is bound to be a significant adjustment for your folks. Of course you will be focused on what’s happening in your life, but it wouldn’t hurt to consider what a tremendous void you will be leaving in your parents’ lives. Here are some suggestions about how to manage living way from home while letting your parents know that they are still very important to you:

  • E-mail or text your parents on a daily basis, just a short note to let them know that you’re thinking of them. It won’t take you long, and it will make them feel included in your new life.
  • Encourage your parents to attend parent orientation, which is offered by many colleges. There, they may meet up with other parents who can provide support since they are experiencing many of the same issues that your parents are: an empty nest.
  • Along the same lines, introduce your parents to some of your friends’ parents on those weekends when they are invited to come up. If your parents have a supportive network of other adults whose children are at college, it will help to fill their void.
  • If you live within a commutable distance from home, pop in for dinner or an overnight visit once or twice a month; it will be nice for you to have a good home-cooked meal as well as some catch up time with your parents.
  • Bring one of your school friends home with you when you visit. Ideally, you will bring a friend who makes a good impression and will interact with your parents so that they will be able to visualize who you are hanging out with at school.
  • If your parents are dropping in or showing up unexpectedly or with little notice at inconvenient times, make up a schedule for visits. At the very least, let your parents know that because of all the school work you have to do, you need to be included in any arrangements they make to come up and visit you.

By the way, what type of parents do you have?

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