Parents need to let go of school so kids can thrive, experts say


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Sending a child to college is one of the most exciting and emotionally charged experiences a mom or dad can have, say many parents and guardians – and that time of year is just about here. for millions of families across the country.

“The emotions at the time of the deposition and in the days that followed run the gamut,” Mary Anne Donaghey, a Boston-area mother of four sons who saw each of them in college, told Fox. News Digital this weekend.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said.

“You feel anxiety, loss and incredible pride – all at the same time.”

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As of October 2021, 61.8% of 2021 high school graduates aged 16 to 24 were enrolled in colleges or universities, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year.

If those numbers are true this year, it’s because many moms and dads are hugging their kids and saying goodbye with mixed emotions as their children begin the new adventure of higher education – and a new period of growth. all around.

College is a time of discovery and exploration for students. Parents also have their own challenges.
(AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

Here are some clever survival tips for parents sending a child to college this year — from those who know and have been there.

Reduce constant connection

“Many parents ‘come to college’ with their freshmen via technology, talking and texting throughout the day about every class, meeting, and assignment,” Clinical Professor Dori Hutchinson associate at Boston University’s Sargent College and director of services at Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, a campus publication BU Today told.

“The hardest thing for me was the lack of daily communication.”

“You want to promote your child’s independence, and that’s part of what college is about — developing that independent life,” Hutchinson also told the same outlet.

“Resist the texting and the phone [the student] every day,” she advised. “It’s a hard thing to do if you’re not used to it. Try to do it every other day, at least initially.”

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A father from Hampton, Iowa, who has two college degrees echoed that advice.

“The hardest thing for me was the lack of daily communication,” he told Fox News Digital. “But when they settle, it’s essential.”

The college years can be a time of growth for parents and children, experts and parents say.

The college years can be a time of growth for parents and children, experts and parents say.
(Stock)

“Your voice can inspire homesickness and tears, so it’s best to ‘get off the grid’ gently. They know you love them and are thinking of them,” he added.

Encourage your kids to use campus resources (don’t do it for them)

“Behavioral scientists believe that ‘helicopter parenting’ interferes with normal developmental experiences that allow children to develop their own skills and problem-solving skills,” explained Chris Segrin, director of the communications department of the University of Arizona, at the university’s website.

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“For many people, these are developed through trial and error experiences,” he continued.

Noting that helicopter parenting a college-aged child “restricts those learning experiences,” he said parents “often dispense their wisdom” gained through their own experience to “solve too many of their children’s problems. “.

“Part of growing up is falling flat on your stomach, dealing with awkward and uncomfortable situations, and not knowing what to do in a given situation.”

“Don’t be afraid to let your child struggle a bit,” Segrin also advised.

“Struggles are a part of life, and most people who overcome their challenges with their own energy and resources come out better prepared to deal with subsequent challenges,” he said.

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Karen Cahill, a college-age mother of two and an educator in Massachusetts, agreed with that advice.

“Part of growing up is falling flat on your stomach, dealing with awkward and uncomfortable situations, and not knowing what to do in a given situation,” she told Fox News Digital.

This period of time "can be a big chance" for everyone to grow up, say experts and parents who have taken this route.

This period “can be a great chance” for everyone to grow up, say experts and parents who have taken this route.

“What happens – and it’s uncomfortable – is that you need a change, and the ‘high’ is delaying that,” she said. “You’ll miss softball games, family dinners, standing in the doorway chatting before bed.”

While noting that “this time can be a great opportunity to enjoy your own growth,” Cahill said, “I remember sitting alone in their room, missing them so much.”

“I would allow myself to miss them for a few minutes…then I would shake myself off and get up and do what I had to do.”

A New York mother of two sons said she did the same.

“I missed our boys intensely while they were in college,” she said. “I allowed myself to miss them for a few minutes, really miss them. Then I would shake myself off, get up and do what I had to do. It took a lot of discipline! They also knew what they had to do. do – by themselves.”

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She said texting and FaceTiming with the boys periodically helps a lot.

“I think it kept us all connected and grounded at the same time,” she said. “But I had to work hard not to overdo it, for the good of all of us.”

Learn how to accompany your child differently

Letting go enough to let your child soar independently doesn’t mean loving kids any less. According to experts, it may just mean expressing your care and engagement differently.

“When these students arrive at college, it’s easier for them and their parents to stay connected than ever before,” said Karen Levin Coburn, senior consultant in residence at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, at Collegiateparent.com.

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Coburn is co-author of the book “Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years”.

It’s difficult, she said, for families to “find the balance between staying connected and letting go.” She added that students “benefit greatly from having supportive, interested and loving parents.”

"Go out and look for your best and hold yourself to a high standard," a mother wrote to her daughter in a letter she slipped under her pillow the day before they left for the return to university.

“Go out and do your best and hold yourself to a high standard,” a mother wrote to her daughter in a letter she tucked under her pillow the day before they left for the return to college.
(Stock)

“They also benefit from parents who will encourage them to chart their own course, learn to make their own decisions and solve problems,” she said.

Before they even leave, encourage them to take responsibility for tasks, Coburn said. This includes making their own medical and dental appointments and taking care of their finances as much as possible, she suggested.

Tasks such as doing their own laundry and keeping the car full of gas should be routine for them long before they even leave for college.

Let them know you’re there, if they need you

According to many parents, dealing with the emotions that come with saying goodbye on the way home can be more difficult than the practicality.

“My husband and I got in the car with our smiles frozen…I didn’t just cry, I sobbed when we were far enough down the road.”

Donaghey, the Boston-area mom, said the hardest part of her first return to college with her son was “trying not to show my real, true emotions in front of him.”

“I knew how nervous he was and I didn’t know how I would react if he started crying,” she said.

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She added: “At the bookstore, I saw a father crying openly in one of the aisles. Tears were streaming down his face as he stood in front of the notebooks. I smiled and waved at him. understanding head.”

Letting go enough to let your child thrive independently through the college years doesn't mean diminishing your love or commitment;  that may mean expressing it differently, experts say.

Letting go enough to let your child thrive independently through the college years doesn’t mean diminishing your love or commitment; that may mean expressing it differently, experts say.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Donaghey explained how she handles things. “I bought a nerdy ‘#1 Mom’ hat that I didn’t need or want, hugged my son and said goodbye,” she said. declared.

“My husband and I got in the car with our smiles frozen,” she said. “I didn’t just cry, I sobbed when we were far enough down the road.”

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Another Boston-area parent shared the contents of the letter she put under her daughter’s pillow the day before the family left for college.

“When you drop them off at college, it’s not goodbye forever. It’s ‘goodbye for now’.”

“Go get the best and hold yourself to a high standard,” mom Tricia Conte wrote to one of her children.

“Trust me, if you do, you’ll get everything you want,” her note continued. “You are my daughter, my rock, my amazing gift from God.”

She ended her letter, “I’m always here for you, even when we’re apart. I love you and all that you are, unconditionally.”

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The New York mum, whose two boys have now graduated from college, added, “Guess what? There’s a lot of joy in the journey. There’s growth from everyone.”

She also said, “They also come home often. Which is great. So when you drop them off at college, it’s not a goodbye forever. It’s a ‘goodbye for the ‘moment’.”


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