Easing Your Fears of Sending Your Kids Off to College

male graduate being congratulated by his father

For 18 years, you’ve watched your child grow up, It seems like only yesterday, they were toddling around the yard in just a diaper.  And now, in just a few weeks, they’re going to be graduating from high school and running off to college!  While it is an exciting time, it can also be terrifying.  There are plenty of horror stories about freshmen in college: students who get into trouble, that call you only to ask for your money, and let go of their parents completely.  Below are the common fears that parents face, as well as tips on how to ease them.  

They Won’t Need You Anymore

The number one fear parents have is that their child won’t need them anymore.  They’ll go off to college, make new friends, start a new life, and leave everything — including you — behind.  However, this fear often leads parents to become helicopter parents, trying too hard to stay in touch with their children, and instead, they push them further away.  Allow your children to control communication, and don’t be afraid to give them some space.   They will call when they need you, whether that is due to stress, confusion on how to do laundry, or help cooking a special dish.

They’ll Only Want Your Money

What if your child does need you, or rather, your money, and they only call when they want more funds?  Whether or not you can afford constantly sending your children money, if you always meet their demands, you don’t teach them financial responsibility.  It is important to discuss finances before your child leaves, to help them stick to a budget, and be wise with their money (especially when it comes to play and food costs).  

They’ll Get Into Trouble

It is natural to be afraid that your child might get into trouble, the amount of freedom they experience when they get to college can be too much for many students.  There are so many temptations: alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex, skipping class, and more.  Collegiate freshman are bombarded with peer pressure, and they no longer have you to turn to in order to help them make decisions.  It seems that the rates of risky behavior, such as binge drinking, are only increasing, and as a parent, that can be terrifying.  While it is important to let your child make their own decisions, it is also important to actively touch base with them, so that they know where they can turn if things do go wrong.

Adult Son Moving Out Of Parent's Home

They’ll Forget to Pack Something

Another common fear of parents is that your child will forget to pack something very important.  And while your first instinct is to pack for them to make sure that they get absolutely everything, you might accidentally send them with too much.  And no matter how prepared you are, you always will forget something.  Luckily, there are plenty of stores in college towns, and if you need to, you can always send a care package.  Let your child take charge of his or her own packing, it’ll make it a lot easier to unpack when they arrive, and be careful not to overpack!  

Tips for Handling Your Fears

Meeting Of Support Group

Find a Support Group

There are many other parents in your community that will be sending their children off to college this fall as well.  Connect with them and create a support group.  You can talk about your fears with a group that understands you.

Set Rules and Have Open Communication

Before your child goes off to college, sit down with them and talk openly about your financial situation, your expectations for them, etc.  That way, they won’t be calling you just to ask you for money, they will call when they need you.  Let them know how much they will be receiving monthly, if you have any rules regarding that money (ie they need to get certain grades or stay out of trouble), and whether or not you expect them to work to help support themselves through college.  

Teach Them Now

Throughout your child’s life, you have taught them how to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and morally.  Hopefully, they will be able to use that knowledge when they go off to college.  One thing that you need to make sure that your child knows how to do is properly take medicine.   When they were younger, you just handed them a tylenol when they felt sick, and they might not know what dosage of what medicine they should take.  Create a little first aid kit for your collegiate student including a “how to” booklet to help them when things go wrong.  

Schedule Phone Calls

Instead of calling your child four times a day, limit yourself to once a week.  Schedule a time once a week that you and your child will chat on the phone.  Sunday evenings tend to work well for most students.  Once you have decided on a time, make yourself wait for it.  Keep the communication lines open, but don’t force yourself into your student’s life.  If your child needs to call you more frequently, they will.   Just let them be in charge of communication.

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