Almost everywhere I go I hear, “the graduation parties finally ended and tomorrow we’re packing up the car and heading to college.” These words are inevitably accompanied by worried or bemused looks. So this blog is for the parents who are sending their children off to college. You’re worried… you’re not alone. To prove it, I conducted an absolutely unscientific poll of the top 10 worries of parents of teens.
#10 Will my child pull away from our family?
#9 Did I do a good job as a parent? Have I been a role model and instilled values?
#8 How will he/she be affected by media influences, social networking, or sharing too much information online?
#7 Will my child be safe and make healthy choices… or do something risky that has long-term consequences?
#6 Will he/she drive responsibly and be safe on the road?
#5 Will my child stay motivated and be successful? [...when I’m not there nagging-- or as we call it in my house ‘encouraging’.]
#4 Will he/she be successful in life? Happy?
#3 Drugs and alcohol… will he/she make healthy choices?
#2 Sex… will he/she make healthy choices?
#1 Negative peer influences … will he/she make healthy choices about friends? (it’s interesting that those ‘other kids’ are the real concern.)
So if you’re worrying about any of these things, rest assured, so is every other parent!
If you’re about to pack up the car with the entire contents of his/her bedroom and send them off to school, here are my top 5 things to remember:
#1 He/she is headed off to begin the path to adulthood… Congratulations! You’ve done your job!
#2 Yes your child will still need you. I realized this the day my older son called me at work and said, “I’m going to an interview. Is there anything I need to know about ironing my suit so I don’t ruin it?” and then he followed up with another call 4 minutes later asking, “Which tie should I wear… and can I call back if I have more questions?”
#3 You will stay connected. Oatmeal raisin cookies are always appreciated… and he/she will need money or a new cell phone very soon.
#4 Your home will change. You can now take the basketball posters off the bedroom walls. You won’t trip on size 15 shoes when you walk in the door. And your electric bills will decrease dramatically with 20 fewer wash loads a week (OK maybe not quite 20)... but you'll also miss family movie night, those talks about everything and anything in the car on the way to and from soccer practice, Scouts, and violin lessons.
#5 If you need something to worry about, here’s a thought…when you finally adjust to their departure, just when that gaping void transforms into harmonious calm… he/she will move back home bringing exuberance, a new sense of maturity and a pile of dirty laundry the size of a Volvo.