The Art of Letting Go
The end of summer means that some parents are getting ready to drop off their child at college for the first time. For some parents, they’re secretly high-fiving each other when their child isn’t looking, but for some, it’s a very emotional, traumatic experience. Here are 3 tips for managing the inevitable parental adjustment.
1. This time in a child’s life is a huge shift in identity. It’s also a huge shift in a parent’s identity. It marks the end of childhood for both your son/daughter and for you. Adjusting to the normal, life transitions can bring a sense of loss. It’s a very normal response to such a profound adjustment. The same advice holds true for any loss. Honor the tears and the sadness. They’ll come and go and they will become less intense and less frequent as you allow yourself to move through the emotions. Remain in your routines. Seek out the comfort and solace of close friends and family. Take care of yourself and practice self-care.
2. While you are sad, you may feel the need to check in on your child excessively via texting, emailing, FaceTiming, or Skyping. Resist the urge! Your child is busy with his/her own adjustment period. They’re trying to create a new world for themselves and most likely are enjoying spending time with their new peers and the freedom of having no parental influence. Don’t take it personally! Have a conversation with your child about how communication between the two of you is going to exist. Respect their boundaries and trust that they will reach out to you albeit probably not as often as you would like.
3. It is time to trust that your child can make it on their own. As parents, your goal has been to raise your child to be independent, resourceful, confident adults. If they struggle and want you to fix situations that they are difficulty managing or causing confusion, ask them what they’ve done to fix the situation; to whom and to where can they turn to on campus for support and information. Guide them and support them. This builds confidence and self-efficacy. Don’t fix it. This breeds entitlement and disempowerment.
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