Sending Your Child to College

Mental Health Matters

Coping With Sending Your Child to CollegeCoping With Sending Your Children to College

There are two pivotal moments in a parent’s life: the day your child arrives and the day your child leaves. Sending your child off to college can be an emotional event. This transitional stage can stir up feelings of sadness, pride, excitement, and nostalgia. No matter how much you may have prepared for this day, two decades of your child’s life can seem like it has passed in an instant. Although you may not feel prepared, here are a few tips on how you can cope with sending your child to college:

Prepare for Big Topics Ahead of Time

Address the important topics before your child leaves for college. Discussions can include topics such as finances, drug use, sex, anxiety, or walking alone at night. These conversations are meant to set an open, comfortable space for your child to communicate with you if they want to vent or receive your advice while they are away. However, as much as you want to be involved, it is good to remember that your child is now a young adult and it is ultimately up to them to decide on how much they want to divulge. Practice active listening and express your support and love.

Prioritize Your Child

As emotionally hard as it is for you to let go of your child and face the negative emotions, try to set your feelings aside and make their feelings a priority on move in day. This is their day to shine. Your child is most likely going through their own whirlwind of emotions and is focused on their new environment. You may have more experience, but it is important to let them learn how to adjust on their own.

Let Them Take the Lead

Give your child the space to adjust to their new surroundings and make their own rules. This is their opportunity to set a foundation for their own processes, schedule, and lifestyle. Talk to them about how often they want to have phone calls. Send care packages with essential items but avoid overloading them with items and acknowledge that they may not use all the items.

Plan Ahead

Prepare for the period following move-in day. It helps to make active plans for the upcoming week to take your mind off the negative emotions. Find support from family members or friends who have sent their children off to college as well. Look forward to future family-centered events such as upcoming holidays or other breaks.

Trust in Your Parenting

Remember that you are sending your child off with a good foundation of life skills. You have given them the values, knowledge, and tools to adjust to their new environment and embark in this new stage of life. Trust in your parenting and respect their process; they are actively applying the skills you have raised them with.

The college transition is an emotional process for both the parents and the child. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time with feelings of separation or transition, consider seeking therapy for support. Find a qualified Marriage and Family Therapist in Counseling California’s directory of professional therapists and visit our website for more information and resources. We are here to support you in whatever stage you are in.

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