There is such a huge build to high school graduation; college acceptances and rejections, prom, graduation parties… There is so much focus on, in such a short period of time. Your student has their school counselor, their teachers, friends and most of all YOU to support them and guide them through this transition. And I will be the first to admit, I am so focused on getting my clients organized and emotionally prepared for college that I lose sight of that fact that your entire family goes through this transition. As your students primary support system (whether they admit that or not, it’s the truth) you need someone to lean on and talk to during this time of uncertainty too. This blog creates a space to call the transition into their student going to college for what it is; scary, nerve-wracking, exciting, terrifying, wonderful, horrible, the best, the worst….
Most importantly, let me point out that it is normal to have a rush of a lot of different emotions during this time. The feeling of overwhelm can thrive in situations where we are unsure of the outcome. Our minds wonder, usually settling and ruminating on the worst case scenario, the what if’s or things you should/could do. I happens, so let’s acknowledge this, and find ways to break up negative or erratic thought patterns and self-calm. Often times talking to someone who can understand, relate and/or give you unbiased support.
There is going to be an adjustment period, involving the whole family. After 18 years of your family unit being more or less the same, a major change is happening. Parents often have a period of disorientation leading up to and certainly after your student moves away to college. During this transition, you may have a strong urge to help make every discussion, to monitor, to problem solve. The goal during this period of adjustment isn’t to completely stop parenting, but to help encourage and empower your students to make decisions on their own.
It’s normal to feel a sense of loss during this time in your life. Again, a kiddo going off to college is a period of transition and change. It is very common for parents to feel a sense of loss, even if younger children remain in the home. Your family structure has changed, a piece of your family has moved on to become an adult. Your child is becoming an adult.
As an individual, as a parent, as a member of your family, it’s important to find a new normal…accepting your students new role as a budding adult, and your new role as a parent of a college student. As someone who STILL calls my parents with random (often ridiculous) questions – Mom, what’s the sugar brand we use…I know the package has a gold stamp on it? Dad, I’ll only really need to mow the grass in my front yard through about September right? I can assure you that through college and beyond your kids need your advice, support and praise more than ever before. The delivery of those things just changes…a little, and only because your advice, support and praise has become a part of their very own inner voice.