It can be hard to let your baby grow up and go out into the real world.
After much careful consideration, your teen has finally decided where he wants to go to college. Of course, you had a strong hand in helping him decide which school would be the best fit. You are proud of him. He has worked hard. You have watched him mature from a boy to a young man throughout his high school years. You can honestly say without hesitation that he is ready to go to college.
"Then why,” you wonder to yourself, “do I feel so stressed and anxious about his impending exit?”
Just yesterday, you were tying his shoes. You still can’t believe he is driving. You can’t help wondering if sending him away so soon is a mistake. Will he be able to study on his own without your gentle reminders? Will he eat well-balanced meals? What about his laundry? How will he know what to do? The more you contemplate his departure the more concerned and worried you become.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by worry, it is time to take a deep breath and pause those mounting racing thoughts. Take a moment to consider your concerns. What you may realize is that while your son maybe ready to go off to college, you are not ready to let him leave. The truth be told, you are not alone. Sending your child off to college can be scary.
There is so much talk about how to help prepare him. Perhaps however, you are really the one who could use the help. Sending your teen off into the unknown abyss is challenging to say the least. This can be especially concerning if this is the first time your teen has ever been on his own. Even if your son has spent summers away at camp, your stress is understandable. Sending him away to college is a much different situation.
So how can you overcome your own stress? Here are some simple solutions to address your stress.
1. Make a list of your worries. Once you have written down your concerns, take some time to carefully review each one. The mere exercise of reviewing your woes can be quite cathartic. Cross off any concerns that seem irrational.
2. Address realistic concerns realistically. If for example, you are concerned because he does not know how to do his own laundry, take the time to teach him. While he may scoff at the suggestion, let him know that it will help you feel less stressed.
3. Pre-plan strategies to seize the day. If you fear your son’s departure will leave both a hole in your heart and your schedule, think about new things you can do to fill your time. Research a new hobby you would like to try, start a new sport. Acknowledge his departure as an opportunity to tackle new adventures of your own.
4. Turn to your friends for suggestions and support. Chances are you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings. Nothing is more comforting than talking with other parents who really get how you’re feeling.
5. Treasure the time you have. Now that he has made the decision about where he intends to go to school, there is a lot of preparing to do. Chances are he will need your help now more than ever. Enjoy the time you have with him planning and preparing for his big move. You will both value the time you have together.
There are a lot of memories to be made between now and the day he ships off to college. You will have plenty of time to get used to the idea that your baby is taking his first steps on his own. And well the good news, research reflects that greater numbers of kids are returning home to live with parents upon graduation from college. Enjoy the time you have left together, and enjoy the time apart because before you know it, he may be home again. By that time you will probably be used to his absence….more on that later.
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Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder, Psy. D. is currently a clinical administrator on an adolescent inpatient unit in a private psychiatric hospital. She is an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Pace University and maintains a private outpatient practice. She is also the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com, a forum for family and friends.