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Driving away from the college campus after dropping a son or daughter off at school for the first time can be difficult for any parent.  Up until now, your child has been dependent on you for nearly everything, and you’ve always been there to watch the setbacks and successes every step of the way. Suddenly it’s time to watch from a distance, and who knows what you might miss? What if my kid needs my help with a class or a roommate dilemma? What if I miss something? These and other hypotheticals may have you tempted to hover over your child with constant calls, emails, and demands to video-chat or visit as much as possible. But this time in your child’s life, and in yours, is full of new beginnings and fresh starts, which means adapting and learning to parent from a distance. You may want to hold your son or daughter’s hand through every little step of this new journey, but it’s important for your sake, and your child’s, to have faith in your child’s capability to act freely and make choices for himself, and to be excited to see your child blossom from a high-schooler into an independent young adult.

Why They Need It

Believe it or not, your child needs distance just as much as you do during this time, even if neither one of you recognizes it just yet.  This is likely the first opportunity your child has had to spread his or her proverbial wings and experience life away from the nest. When you distance yourself, you are giving your son or daughter the tools to come into his or her own, to learn new things and meet new people and break away from the familiar. This is a good thing! A college campus is the best place to prepare these life skills, such as networking and surviving on your own, because your child never has to be truly alone. With roommates, new friends, and campus-connecting resources, your child has a secure network to work within and reliable places to find answers. There are groups on nearly every college campus whose sole purpose is dealing with common first-year issues, solving problems from scheduling to socializing and everything in between. If your child’s default reaction when any problem arises is to call Mom or hurry home, he won’t be readily capable to deal with real-life issues when they eventually come. Giving your child distance is giving him the strength to problem solve and think critically, skills that will be invaluable in his post-college life. You can still be supportive, but now you can support your child’s independent efforts too.

Why You Need It

College is, as they say, a whole new ball game for your child. He or she is trying new social activities, meeting new people, and breaking out of his or her shell. Who says you can’t do the same thing? With your child away at college, that’s one less aspect of your daily life that you have to keep constant track of. Take this time to start exploring new hobbies or reconnecting with old friends. You’ll be amazed at how much more free time you have without parent-teacher conferences and keeping track of Johnny’s homework. Both you and your child have a new independence that didn’t exist before. Don’t waste it! You can enjoy your freedom just as much as your child enjoys theirs.

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