Sending any one of your children off to college can be wrought with emotions. You might even think that if you’ve already successfully transitioned one of your students to a semi-independent life in college, you’re ready for the next one. But as with all things parenting, every child has different needs and different ways of dealing with change and transition. No matter if you’re a seasoned professional or this is your first time watching your child “fly from the nest,” having a game plan can make all the difference.
At Me To You Box, we encourage parents to strike that right balance of connection and push for independence. It’s important that your teen know you care and provide opportunities for connection. It’s also important to provide that support and care from a distance that gives them space to carve out their own life. Giving gifts that mean something to them is the goal of our curation. We take to carefully curate boxes with meaningful gifts full of not junk, or filler items, but objects that are trending with their peers and they would find helpful or fun in their new college life.
We also want you, our paying clients, to have a great experience with our services and to that end, we offer these four tips for a successful transition from home to college:
1. Don’t Expect Smooth Sailing
Kids, even those old enough to head off to college, are still experiencing ups and downs emotionally. At the same time they are experiencing excitement about a new place, new freedoms and new people, the other side of the coin is anxiety about those same things. One day they might seem totally ready to dive into a new life and others they may seem to be regressing into early-teen behavior, which can make you worried that they aren't ready for this shift. We hear that expecting some pretty big undulations in this emotional state is helpful. It's also helpful to not react to a seemingly wild swing in perspective. Acknowledging the range of emotions as a normal part of leaving home for the first time is the best conversation starter. If they don’t take the bait about talking through those emotions at least they will know you consider it perfectly normal to be both excited and anxious at the same time.
2. Prepare to Not Prepare
Some parents, in an attempt to help their teen get ready for departure, focus almost exclusively on the impending future. It’s also important to remember that teens need a chance to really unwind and experience the joy of their freedom the last summer before they leave for college. They may choose to completely disconnect from friends who are not heading out to their same college of choice, but they still have a summer full of opportunities to connect with you, their family in a way they may never have before. It can be a bittersweet summer to know that in the end they will be gone and a new chapter of life begins, but try not to fixate too much on the future so you can fully enjoy being present for them as they might need you most now.
3. Get Clear about Money
College applications are in, choices have been made, living arrangements have been set, but your teen still may be wondering who is paying for their next Frappuccino. While this may seem like a very silly notion to a certifiably responsible parent, kids heading off to college may not have a totally clear idea about who is paying for what. Prepare your child with a great budget conversation to avoid negative feelings when they want to head out to buy the latest sports wear, new make up, or want to upgrade their phone. Making a simple chart and having a light hearted conversation about all the expenses they may face will help give the certainty in a new life where few things seem certain. Give them a list of what is clearly their responsibility, what you want to pay for and what is open for discussion. Every family’s list will be different, but clarity about money is a gift you give your new college student.
4. Talk about Communication
Many parents have already navigated the crazy seas of texting and communication with their teen. But new expectations arise when that teen no longer comes home to the same home. Making it clear what kind of frequency you are expecting for communication is key to maintaining that balance between wanting to keep your college student safe and them feeling smothered by your vigilance. Keep in mind that kids at this age typically call a parent when things are not going well and typically call a friend with exciting news to share. Getting used to a new cadence for communication and connection will go a long way to creating a great experience for both child and parents.
Consider what is emerging for you as a parent from nostalgia to grief to pure excitement is also emerging for your teen heading to college. Acknowledging the many changes that are ahead is key to getting the opportunity to experience this transition with your new college student instead of finding yourself outside looking in. At Me to You Box, we look forward to helping your family find interesting and fun ways to stay connected and show you care. As a parent, know that no matter what you do, acting in kindness to any challenge your child is facing is a win.