Here are a few tips for parents who have children heading off to college:
--Talk about the transition -- and the contradictory feelings your whole family may be feeling (excitement, sadness, anxiety).
--Be honest about how you're feeling, but also be encouraging. Express excitement about your child's future.
--Give advice, but only when requested. Consider responding with "What do you think?" or "How would you do it?" Don't be in a rush to problem-solve for your freshman.
--Unless there is a serious emergency, let your child find and use the many resources on campus that will help him or her solve those problems.
--Remember that emotions are particularly cranked up during times of transition. Cut each other some slack.
--Talk about how home will be the same, yet different -- but don't be in a rush to take over your child's room immediately. Your freshman still needs to know he or she has a place at home, at least at first.
--Make definite plans to see one another and talk about those plans.
--Attend to the feelings of your other children.
--And remember: It's OK to let yourself feel miserable about your college student leaving home, for a while. Then remind yourself that your child is not responsible for your happiness.
(Sources: Linda Bips, Muhlenberg College; Marshall Duke, Emory University)
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)