N.H. asks from Midway, AR on August 19, 2007
Stages of Life, My Firstborn Is Going to College, Away from Home.
My oldest child is going to college. I was a young mother with him. He has been a part of my daily life since I was 18 1/2. Now he is 17, and leaving home to go to college. How do I make the transition easier for both of us?
S.P. answers from Kansas City on August 20, 2007
Wow, I remember that. I've done it twice now. It takes some adjustment... we survived it by finding ways to stay connected so that I still felt like a big part of their lives.
Ok, so here are the things we did:
1. Kept phone contact - first and foremost. Make sure he feels free to call you, even long-distance, whenever he needs you. Talk about a reasonable number of times a month for a phone call, and let him know that it's not to check up on him - it's to help you get through the separation! Make sure it doesn't cost him anything to call you, whether it's free long distance on his cell, collect, or you getting an 800 number (free except for cost of actual calls). And don't be surprised if the calls come at odd hours. Both of my daughters sometimes call very late into the evening, because that's when all the activity stops and in the quiet, they miss me. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but I took those late calls, and was glad to have them. If I tried to insist that they call at "a decent hour," I don't know if I would have talked to them as much.
2. Send silly care packages just like camp. It made us both feel good when I put together shoeboxes full of helpful and silly stuff. They're still kids in some ways. A slinky is still fun, no matter your age. A role of film or if they don't have a camera, then a disposable one. Home-made cookies, new socks, novels, comic books, something you know he can't afford but would love to have - whatever you know he needs or likes.
3. Hometown newspaper. Our religious community puts out a monthly newsletter that talks about stuff and people. I got my daughters on the mailing list, just to help them feel they hadn't been cut off from all the people and activities of home.
4. If you're both computer-connected, consider "chatting" online often. My daughters and I have naturally gravitated toward "meeting" on the computer many nights around 11p.m. - when their lives settle down for the day. Plus, if they're on your "buddy list," (AOL or Trillian are both free now) you can see their comings and goings and it's sort of like knowing where they are - or at least when they're by the computer.
5. Be sure to visit campus on parents' weekend. It is comforting to see all your kids' hang-outs - where they sleep, eat, attend class, catch a meal off campus - and to meet their assorted friends and even attend a class with them, if your college is set up to allow that on parents' weekend. Being able to envision their environment is very calming! And try to visit at least one other time during the year. That way, their friends aren't all involved with their own parents, and you can take your son's best buddies out to dinner and a movie. I loved doing that. When I saw how tight my daughter and her friends were, I was able to worry a little less. She had a first line of defense against loneliness!
6. Be prepared to feel depressed. When it comes over you, reach out to your child for contact, but also add something back into your life that escaped when kids took it over. For me, it was school! But it could be painting, listening to live music, ice-skating, more lunches with friends, yoga, etc. Just reward yourself with something you love for a job well done with your son!
I hope some of this helps. Even though I've got a second batch of kids at home to distract me, I still miss my daughters (24 & 22) terribly. But we stay in very good touch and I still feel we are very much a part of each others' lives. And a funny thing has happened along the way. They've grown up some and become rather independent (as you hope they will), and the relationship has evolved from a simple mother-child thing to something more rich and complex. My daughters are still my kids, but in some delicious ways they have become now my friends too. I don't think we could have reached this place unless they'd had the space to take responsibility for themselves, and to finish growing up.
Good luck, God bless and let us know how it goes...
1 mom found this helpful
K.R. answers from Joplin on August 20, 2007
I am right where you are at, however, my son is moving overseas.
I am treasuring every moment I have with him. I'm not sure there is an "answer" as it is suppose to be a tearful time, yet, a joyful time. You are getting ready to launch your first "arrow" out into the world and now you can be his biggest cheerleader. I personally will go to another level in my prayer life I'm sure! :-) Knowing that he is ultimately loved by God even more that I love him brings much comfort to my heart!
1 mom found this helpful
L.K. answers from Springfield on August 20, 2007
The other mother's had great ideas. As a mother, my kids aren't even in preschool. As a daughter, I did go off to college and I spent a year in Europe. I loved care packages. It also became even more important for me to talk to my mom. I would go a while without talking to her, but then I would have a week when I wanted to talk to her every day. Our relationship improved and we became closer friends then when I was at home.
Also, think of what you can do for yourself. You are going to have more time to focus on yourself and that might be just what you need. Good luck.
M.O. answers from Kansas City on August 20, 2007
Mother of 2 here. Oldest id 25 and the other is 10. When mine went 1800 miles away to college, her sister and I took to come home with only the 2 of us. I cried every chance I got when noone was looking! I also had my first at 16. If I remember right, it got better after she moved home after the first year because she was certain that she had no friends( you can look forward to this part also),then she hated being "back home"! Learned to live with being home, then when I wasn't looking, she re-enrolled a year and a half later and moved back. Again I took her. VACATIONS are the BEST, EVERY year with my children!! And don't forget when and what you were thinking at her age. Let her have her adventure and you can join in on the adventure once a year and relive MAMA!!!
M.A. answers from Kansas City on August 20, 2007
My 2 daughters are still young but I am starting to miss them now that my little one is starting preschool.
You know, I am from Argentina, and kids don't leave the home to study, so I feel terrible justy thinking about it. I always think that I might find a way that they won't have to leave our home, like studying close in the college or KU may be? Don't realy know what to tell you except get instant messenger set up in you computer and his!
It is fun and you can keep in touch and even know when he is online or connected so you can say hello any time!
You can also get a small camera so you can chat and see each other, you will need 2 cameras one for each, they are not very expensive, some days you can even find them free (office max?) or close if they are not the latest models.
And yes, keep in touch, let him know that you'll miss him and want him to call you as much as he can.
Visit him when he is not busy, ask when can you go and let him show you around. Spend lunch together or walk around town.
Also, focus on your other child, he is going to miss him too.
Best wishes with that!