Your baby, the one you’ve watched over and cared for the last 17-18+ years, is moving away. You don’t get to see them in the morning before your days start or at night before bedtime. It can feel like a huge loss, especially if this transition is making you an empty nester! How can you manage your grief while also supporting your child or children?
3 tips for parents of a college freshman
- Set expectations early. What information do you expect your child to share with you? How often do you expect to talk to them and when? Do you expect them to work during college? How often do you expect them to visit home? How often do you plan on visiting them? It’s important to have conversations about these topics sooner rather than later. College students are busy — a full course load, extracurriculars, a budding social life — and talking about what your expectations are of them ahead of time can mitigate subsequent frustration.
- Don’t be the hero. You’re used to having their answers, solving their problems, and offering advice. That being said, college is a place where children can learn to problem-solve and take responsibility for their own actions. How can you support them without giving them advice? By listening, offering feedback, and asking what they think is your best course of action
Understandably, many parents become panicked when they hear their child is struggling. You may be tempted to call professors, the Dean of Students, or their Residence Hall. Although you can and should intervene if your child is at serious risk, directing your child to campus and community resources (e.g., wellness center, counseling center, writing center, health center, international student center, office of disabilities) is much more effective in helping teach your child how to advocate for him/herself.
- Don’t expect perfection. You’re not perfect, and your child is not perfect! You and your child may have a difficult time adjusting, likely for different reasons. While it would be helpful to explicitly expect your child to try hard (but not be perfect), it is also helpful to be self-compassionate. It might be hard to let go of some control, to feel the sense of loss, and to maintain appropriate boundaries.
Are you struggling with being an empty nester? Or are you concerned about your child’s adjustment to college? If you’re near me in the Buffalo area, I invite you to call me and we can set up a time to meet!
About Dr Tacianna
Dr. Tacianna Indovina knew that she wanted to be a therapist since she was in high school. From that time, her love and enthusiasm for the healing power of psychotherapy hasn’t wavered. It’s a good thing for our community that Tacianna is as enthusiastic as ever for helping people when they feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and alone. Through her authenticity, gentle directness, and sense of humor, Tacianna works with you to identify patterns of thinking and behaving that may be making it difficult for you to meet your goals. Tacianna’s easy rapport encourages, validates, challenges, and empowers! With her down-to-earth and relatable style, Tacianna provides counseling for late adolescents, adults, and couples, to provide support to recover from interpersonal loss and trauma, overcome mood struggles, cope with anxiety, and adjust positively to life transitions. Tacianna adapts her approach to what you want and need, and aims to help you build healthier relationships with yourself and others. Contact Dr. Tacianna to schedule your free initial consultation today! 585.752.5320 firstname.lastname@example.org