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5 Ways to Survive Your Child Going off to College

5 Ways to Survive Your Child Going off to College

Your little one has finally left the nest. Now what?

So it's time to send your child off to college. You've done all the research, from finding scholarships online to investing in a 529 college savings plan. Your little one (or maybe not-so-little one) has been preparing for this day for many grades now, and you two have talked about preparing for the challenges this first year at university may present. Now that you've dropped your kid off at, it's time to evaluate what you need to do to ease any separation anxiety and be supportive of your child. Here are five tips from Mitzi Bockmann, a certified life coach at Let Your Dreams Begin.

Your kid is going off to college. Holy cow. The prospect is hitting you like a ton of bricks. That force of nature who has lived in your house for 18 years is leaving. How are you going to survive that loss?

Surviving, and thriving, is not only possible but probable.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.

Most likely your stomach hurts a lot, a result of psychological suffering at the loss of your child. The pain is sharp and relentless and makes you feel awful.

That pain is from anxiety. Anxiety that everything will be different now, and how do you deal with that? That pain comes from your brain, from your thoughts. There are two ways to deal with that pain.

  1. Talk back to your brain. Tell it that your child will be fine. That you have survived raising her so you can survive her leaving. Change is good. Talking back is not easy, but you can do it.
  2. Remember to breathe deep breaths that go down to your belly. Breathe in for 3 seconds, and out for 5. This breathing will actually calm the stress response in your body, ease your stomach pain, and clear your head.

Revel in his successes and opportunities.

Your child is going to college. How huge is that?

Since he were born one of your dreams for him has been college. Higher education opens up doors for our kids. It allows them to think deep, dream big, and share it with all kinds of people. It clears pathways that will take them forward into the rest of their lives.

Don’t forget the role that you have played in all of this.

Because of you he is ready to leave home and thrive. Don’t underestimate the value of this. Without you this never could have happened!

Cry... But not too much.

It’s okay that that you are feeling sad. Your child is feeling sad too. Leaving home leads to mixed emotions.

Tell your child that you are sad that she is leaving and that you are going to miss her. She need to know. It’s important that she sees real emotion from you, emotions that She can mirror.

Don't go on and on about how much you will miss her. Don’t lie on her bed as she packs, sobbing. Don’t make a scene when you drop her off at the dorm.

Burdening your child with guilt will hamper her ability to assimilate into her new school. This is not good.

So cry…but within reason.

Plan a visit. But not tomorrow.

In October, when everyone is missing each other a lot, colleges schedule parent weekends. Kids get to share their new home and you get to buy them things. Fun times are had by all.

So plan to do this. Planning will make you happy.

Do not plan to visit your child before that. Don’t stop by to do his laundry or help with his homework. It’s like summer camp – he needs to go cold turkey from his parents to really settle in.

Take a good look at the rest of your life.

You have spent the past 18 years devoting yourself to your children and running your household. Now it’s time to start taking care of you.

Take a good hard look at the choices you have made that have brought you to where you are today. Look at where you want to be in the next half of your life. Look at what is important to you.

This is your time. You have age and wisdom and now it’s time to start at least laying the groundwork to living the life that you have always wanted.

The next few weeks will be tough but you will get through it. It’s a magical time, a time for your child to enter his or her world and for you to begin to grow in yours.

Embrace it. It only happens once.

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Mitzi Bockmann


Mitzi Bockmann is a New York City-based certified life coach, certified through the Coach Training Alliance. She believes that if a woman is living the life of her dreams, her relationship will be happier, her children better adjusted, her friendships stronger, and her work more successful. 

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