Yay! Your teenager just made THE commitment to a college or university!!! But who is excited here? You or your soon-to-be college freshman? Or both? While it is natural for parents to be excited, it is dangerous for them to be expectant of a definite outcome. You just have to trust that your budding adults will land on their two feet ready to soar. This is the point in your parent-child relationship where if you have not already, you need to cut loose the rope and pray that the values-laden investment you made over the past eighteen some years will yield the desired results; a young adult emotionally, socially, mentally and spiritually prepared to face and conquer whatever challenges come their way in this new phase of their lives. What if you are the doting caregiver, mother-hen type, ever ready to preempt any fall or mishap? Then you have got to just pray and believe for the best outcome for them. And I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but even you do not know what the best outcome will look like.
The promising possibilities are endless and it is our hearts’ desire as parents, teachers, coaches, mentors etc. that our budding adults and students will choose the right path designed specially for them where they can thrive and become all that they were created to be. But you’ve got to cut them loose. It is in cutting them loose and letting them fly that you have the slightest chance to keep the channel of communication open. That open channel of communication will be useful for whenever they get into trouble because then and only then will your advice be sought after. I guarantee you they will be fine, you just have to let them find their way and a favorite quote comes to mind…”Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” Khaled Hosseini.
So, how can we as parents and caregivers prepare practically and emotionally to send our budding adults off to their next phase away from home? Here is a suggested list which by no way is exhaustive. The idea is to give suggestions and depending on the dynamics of your situation and relationship, you can modify as desired.
- Cover practical living items. Colleges typically send lists of items most new students will need. Go through the list and identify items you still need to purchase before the resumption date.
- Basic life skills. If your ward has been overindulged, this is a good time to teach them how to get their laundry done, change light bulbs, banking tips, bill payments, budgeting, grocery shopping etc. and give them a chance to practice. It may be too late to worry about cooking, they’ll have to figure that out for themselves on YouTube. Good thing is most freshmen are required to stay on campus and have meal plans of some sort so you don’t have to worry about them starving.
- Spend quality time together. This is a good chance to get some last minute bonding especially if both of you had a rough senior high school year with deadlines to meet and all. It is also a good time to drop some hints that you too have some lived experience of leaving home (most teenagers think their parents just dropped from the sky or lived in the dark ages) and share what it was like for you then to leave home. This openness reassures your teenager that they will be just fine.
- Buy something beautiful and meaningful (not necessarily expensive). Commemorate this moment in time. I designed a plaque for my son to decorate his room with as a reminder of how special he is to me and to God. He keeps it by his bedside (although when it falls, he leaves it where it fell for a few days) and it serves as a momento.
What are some other ways you can think of to prepare for our growing and going budding adults? Please share in the comments section and let’s keep the conversation going. Sharing is Caring!