The Journey of Letting Go

No One Said It Would Be Easy

So, how do you "let go" of the child you have raised for the past umpteen years? Read on for tips on how to manage this transition.

Tip #1

Don't ask them if they're homesick.
The first few days/weeks are activity-packed, and meeting new people, adjusting to new situations and schedules will take a lot of their time.

The majority of students won't have time to feel homesick as they make these adjustments to campus life.

Even if they don't tell you, they do miss you, they still need you and they will continue to need you in varying degrees.

Tip #2

Provide support and encourage growth.
How? Listen, listen, listen ... and send things (texts, email, voice mails, letters, cards, care packages). Although new students are typically eager to experience all the away-from-home independence they can in those first weeks, most still want to feel like they are a part of "home."

Tip #3

Show your interest, ask questions (but not too many).
First year students need the security of knowing that someone from home is interested in them and what goes on in their lives.  Parental curiosity can be alienating or supportive, depending on how it is given and received.

Tip #4

Be a good listener.
Many of your child's first calls and texts may reflect the roller coaster of the first few weeks of college. Adjusting to new schedules, new people, new classes, new everything can be very stressful.  Your most effective role can be that of empathic listener. There is no cure like a parent who listens when no one else does.

Tip #5

Visit your child on campus, but not too often.
Special occasions such as Family Days, Homecoming are ideal times to visit, and to let your child show you his or her new world here at MU. 

Tip #6

Trust your child.
Recognize that the values you instilled in your child are likely to remain, even as he or she experiments with new hair colors, body art, political views and so on. Try to trust that your child will make good decisions, but stand ready to help them if they fall short of that goal. Encourage them to see one of our counselors if you are concerned about their moods or behaviors.

Tip #7

Encourage your child to get involved but find a balance, too.
Joining a club, finding a job or making friends in class helps reduce homesickness.  But sometimes balancing it all is a challenge. A useful formula is to spend two hours on homework for every hour spent in class. So, a 15 credit load should involve 30 hours a week of homework. For additional information on athletics, Intramurals, clubs/organizations, fraternities/sororities or SMC Fitness Center, visit the CSIL website.

Tip #8

Recognize your own feelings.
Parents, how are you feeling? Proud, happy, sad, and lonely is a confusing, but typical mix.  Getting used to your child's absence takes a bit of time. If you can, spend time with friends or find a new interest.

Tip #9

Make use of resources already available.
A number of books deal with the off to college transition. One of our favorites, Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger, provides a compassionate approach, practical information, and advice about the physical and emotional processes of letting go.