Coping Strategies

Recognize that conflicting feelings about your child's leaving home are normal. For many families, this process of separation is difficult. It is normal, too, to look forward to the relative peace and quiet of having your active older adolescent out of the house and having the place to yourself, or being able to spend time with your younger children.

Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions surface. There is little benefit in pretending that you don't feel sad, guilty, relieved, or apprehensive when your child is getting ready to attend college. You probably aren't fooling anyone by trying to hide your reactions; a healthier approach is to talk about them, with your family, friends, church or whomever is a source of support for you.

Make "overall wellness" a goal for yourself. Especially during stressful times, it helps to get enough sleep, eat healthful meals regularly and get adequate exercise. Spending some recharging time-doing the special things that you especially like-is another step toward wellness. If you are feeling good, you are more likely to have the energy to help your child and be a good role model.

Remember that, for your child, coming to college is a tremendously important developmental step toward full adulthood. Going to college represents the culmination of the teaching and learning of 18 years or more. This is the time when your hard work will show itself in the form of a framework that your first-year student will use in beginning to make independent choices. Many parents find that it helps to focus on the fact that providing your child with this opportunity is a priceless gift. Be proud of yourself!

Find a new creative outlet for yourself. Especially parents whose last or only child has moved away to college find that taking on a new challenge is an excellent way to manage and channel their energy and feelings. Have you ever wanted to write a book? Learn to fly-fish? Make a quilt? Volunteer in your community? Assume a new project or responsibility at work? Travel? Get your own bicycle and ride all over town? Make a list of all the things you intended to do while your child was growing up, but never had the time to do. Now is your chance!