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  • Writer's pictureKelly J

The Empty Nest: Sending Your Child off to College and out into the Real World

Sending your child to college stands as a significant event, signifying their path to self-sufficiency and exploration. This transition brings a blend of emotions for parents – from pride and happiness to concern and sadness. As parents, it can be difficult to navigate! Although my children are not quite at the age to cross this threshold, I have been thinking about some ways to cope as I watch friends, neighbors, and family members send their children off into the wild unknown. When it comes to college, lots of things are out of our hands as parents, so how CAN we cope?

First, we need to recognize our emotions. Experiencing wild swings in our emotions when our child leaves for college is natural. Give yourself the liberty to feel without self-criticism. It's okay to feel both contentment for your child's new phase and a sense of longing for their previous presence. This is exactly the moment we have been raising them for!

Stay in touch with your child through regular conversations. We want them to flourish independently, but we don’t have to cut off communication entirely (thank goodness, right?!). Modern technology makes staying connected easier than ever. Whether through texting, calls, or video chats, keeping communication constant can help bridge the physical separation and offer comfort. Believe it or not, your child will probably need this more than you know!

As your child heads to college, your daily routine may change, too. Embrace this chance to rediscover interests and establish fresh routines aligned with your evolving life. This can help fill the void left by their absence. Pick up activities that bring joy and relaxation. Pursue interests, exercise, spend time with friends, and invest in personal development. Create a Good Reads list and start tackling all those books you’ve been meaning to read! Prioritizing self-care aids in coping with changes and maintaining a positive perspective.

Speaking of perspective, try shifting yours from seeing your child's departure as a loss to viewing it as an extraordinary chance for progress. College is a phase for them to develop essential skills, create new relationships, and uncover passions.Sending your child to college demonstrates YOUR effective parenting. Celebrate their accomplishments and the role you've played in preparing them for this new phase by giving YOURSELF a huge pat on the back!

Sending a child to college is an emotional process. By acknowledging emotions, practicing self-care, sustaining communication, and adapting to changes, parents can provide support during their child's transition while finding contentment in their evolving role. Recall that this is a period of growth for both you and your child, and with the right coping methods, this transformative experience can be the beginning of an exciting new chapter!

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