Last Family Matters, we asked Michigan parents to share their advice about coping strategies when a child leaves home. See below for some great ideas and suggestions from fellow parents:
Knowing that our son was happy and meeting so many new friends, made the adjustment easy for us. He was really happy and loving college life. What more could a mom and dad ask for? We missed him so much, but didn't let him know it.
Our only child, the joy of our lives, is a proud freshman at U-M. To say we miss him, would be a severe understatement; however, our son has always been mature well beyond his years, so he was well-prepared and excited about the college adventure, and we as parents found his excitement to be contagious! We have had an easy transition compared to most parents, because we live only 1 hour from campus and we visit our son often, but ONLY with his permission. In addition to snacks (lots of snacks), we even bring his puppy, Elly, to visit which always makes his day! Each time we visit our son, we see a happy, well-adjusted, confident adult, one who is truly embracing the college experience. And, every time we must leave our son, we find ourselves feeling happy with our hearts filled with pride. We have found a balance that seems to work well for both sides -- we allow our adult son his own space to grow and thrive, but are also, thankfully, located close enough to provide support when needed. My advice to parents is simple; be very proud of your students and make sure they know it!
Encourage your child to become involved in a small group. While Greek life might be great, going through rush (as a young woman) in the fall locks your daughter out of trying other activities, all of which start early in the semester.
The best thing about my oldest and only daughter heading to U of M was that she made friends immediately! She was not an extrovert in high school and going to a huge University gave me a few frightful nights, but she made a number of connections at orientation that continued. (Thank goodness for social networking!) I definitely have had the tougher transition! I miss her terribly, but it is very satisfying to know that she has a network of friends who support her in A2!
We learned how to Skype and requested she 'friend' us on Facebook so we could 'check-in' without bothering her. As she is our only, we resumed old hobbies to keep us occupied and spent more time as a 'couple' instead of 'the parents of…' Although she is in year 2, we still tend to keep her bedroom door closed--we left it in the mess she left it in-- and it looks like she is expected at any minute.
Stay busy! Our second daughter plays volleyball, a fall sport. Attending all of her games helped us to stay connected to other parents and took up lots of hours. We are not alumni of U of M but we became more involved in watching U of M football so we were aware of how the team was doing and could discuss this with our daughter. We finished household projects that had been put off, and spent more time with friends. We sent texts of extended family news that started 'text' conversations. It was not as hard as I thought it would be but I miss her like crazy! She actually took some of our advice-went to office hours of her professors, went for extra help when needed, and went to football games with some students from her high school.
While you don't want to be checking in with your child each day, I found that playing a game like 'Words with Friends' lets me know she's still OK, because she is still playing words!
When our son an only child left home for freshman year, my husband and I did not know how we would all get through the first year. My son was very homesick the first few weeks and we spoke often. We explained that these feelings were normal and we needed to ride it out, give it some time, we would all be fine. Letting the kids know that these are normal feelings and it’s just a matter of time until they will acclimate is the key. We even made a trip to AA after 2 weeks because we all missed each other so much. It was great to see each other and confirm that we can get to AA any time we are needed. It took about 4 weeks and our son was feeling better and so were we. We speak every day still, he is in his sophomore year and he is independent, doing well with many friends.
We were in contact with our son on the phone on a daily basis for the first three months. In this way he knew that we were close to him even in the distance.
Our family is from NJ so we were a little nervous about the distance. We set up a Skype account and agreed to Skype once a week and talk whenever we or our son felt that we needed to. It worked out great. I met other parents on the web and we created a Facebook page to answer questions and share our experiences. It has grown from the original 5 members to about 150. My son loves University of Michigan and is getting a great engineering education. He's having a great time too!
Give them their 'wings to fly' but assure them that you will always be there if their wings get tired.
This month, we're asking you to share tips and advice with other parents about Thanksgiving break. How does your family manage this first break in the school year? What do you look forward to? Any challenges? Share your ideas with other Michigan parents.
To help the Student Life continue making a difference in students’ lives, please consider making a gift.