Empty-Nesters Share Advice For Parents Of College Freshmen
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"Get an idea as to how you want to change their now-empty bedroom and have all the necessary tools available before the big day, so as you wave goodbye to them with tears in your eyes, you jump right in and make the room into something you were wishing for for 18 years!"
"Make or purchase a meaningful item for their dorm room, like a photo/ memento/quote collage of their childhood years, or even just a framed family photo for their dresser or wall. They might just love it so much that they take it with them to their first apartment after graduating college!"
"Yes, you will miss them…but not for long. How much did you see them during senior year anyway? Then add Parents Weekend and a home football game and they're home for Thanksgiving already. Hey, you did invest 18 years to get to this point, right? It’s one of life’s best transitions, so savor it."
"Only phone them once a week in the beginning. Calling more makes them homesick, and you, weepy. Ask them when is the best time to call (nights, weekends, evenings). Don't take it personally if they don't call you often, but do set your phone or tablet to permanent video-chat!"
"Randomly send funny cards and care packages filled with cookies, small stuffed animals, games or puzzles, and other fun 'necessities.' Sending them stuff cheers you up, and receiving it makes them smile, too. Those college years go by in a flash, and before you know it, you'll be sending care packages to your grandkids!"
"Advise them to use every opportunity to enrich their life culturally. There are many opportunities around them now that they won’t ever have again. Also tell them to tap themselves on the shoulder and take note that this is the best time of their life."
"When my children went off to college, I felt lonely. I realized how much being a mother defined me. I eventually started filling my time with various interests, and I recommend that others in a similar situation do the same. Now, I read a bunch, go birding (yes, the geeky hobby involving binoculars and walking in nature), hike, walk daily, and travel. Yes, the nest is empty, but it was a successful launch. Hurrah!"
"Enjoy the freedom! Having a teenager in the house is the best preparation possible for enjoying life without a teen in the house!"
"Write a letter to leave on their dorm bed with a thoughtful note about how much you love them, that you have all the confidence in their college future, and how proud you are of who they have become. DO NOT go on about how much you will miss them. Instead, EMPOWER their independence. Remind them you will always be there for them and to call you for the 'up' times, too, not just the 'downs'!"
"Do not linger forever on campus when you drop them off. This is your child's new home, not yours! Bring a lot of tissues for your drive home, because you don't want to let the flood gates open until AFTER your child has turned their back to you and walked off to their first orientation meeting."