It’s a Sunday in late August and you’re panicking because this week is the week your child is starting a new adventure. After all this time of teaching them how to take care of themselves and make the right decisions, your work is finally about to come to an end. You set down the last suitcase in their dorm and you cry, your child cries, but it’s time to let go and let them pursue this journey they have waited 18 years for.
But what about you? What do you do? You’ve spent all this time guiding your child and built them to be the best version of themselves so that they could achieve bigger and better things. Now all of a sudden they’re taking on the world without your direct guidance and it almost feels like you’ve lost something that gives you a purpose in life every day.
Sending your children off to do bigger and better things is never not going to be a challenge. You feel so many complex emotions for them and your biggest fear as a parent is that you could’ve possibly failed them. It’s easy to forget how much they’ve grown under your care when you’re letting them do the rest on their own. Here are the answers to some questions and concerns you may have regarding your child’s new experience in college this upcoming year.
How can I let go of my child when they go off to college?
It essential to let them grow. As parents, you have every right to check up on your child, but let them accomplish these bigger things. Don’t fear your child making mistakes, let them make mistakes. Those mistakes they make are only going to help them become those better versions of themselves that you hope for them every day. Remind yourself that this is what you’ve been preparing them for and it’s just simply the time they have to spread their wings and fly. All those years of soccer practice and dance classes are finally going to pay off because you taught them that putting effort and passion into life is essential to accomplishing their goals.
Will they call me if they need me? What if they forget about me?
You know your child better than anyone else and your child knows that. You can guarantee that in a scenario where your child is recognized for accomplishments that you’re still going to be the first person they want to tell. Just because your child is in a different place and isn’t coming home to you every day anymore doesn’t mean that they don’t want to celebrate their accomplishments with you. They still appreciate you from far away the same way they appreciate you from home. Your opinion is still going to matter the most to them.
What if something unimaginable happens while they’re away?
Realistically, life happens. All you can do when something happens while your child is away on their own is be there for them and listen to what they have to say. All new experiences come with their bumps in the road, and sometimes they may need your guidance once again in order to get through these challenges. You should never blame yourself for your child’s mistakes, even though you raised them. You’ve taught them everything you can as a parent and this is their turn to take your guidance into action. So if they call you, panicking because they’ve failed a class, listen to them and empathize. We have all had unfortunate experiences in life we have had to overcome. Encourage them that they CAN and WILL get through this.
I’m excited for them, but is it normal to worry for them also?
As a parent, you will never stop worrying about your child. It is totally justified that you are scared for them while you are also excited for them. You are doing your job as a parent by remembering to keep an eye and ear out for them, even as they grow into adulthood. Don’t forget that your child wants you to be happy as much as you want the same for them. Remember, this is difficult for them too. They are so used to being taken care of and having their mom or dad to fall back on in many situations. You are not alone in this adjustment period. Let yourself AND your child adjust to that. It WILL become easier with time.
Overall, it is essential to remind ourselves that this is just a period in life that we all have to go through one way or another. You are either the parent or the child in this situation most of the time and it’s never easy for either. Letting go of your child as a parent is one of the most challenging experiences a parent can face, but just remember you are not alone in this period of your life. There are hundreds of thousands of college students doing the same thing as your child and many parents that have spent countless hours making sure their children make the best decisions for themselves for the future.