How to Support Your Child While Letting Go

Sending your child off to college for the first time can be emotionally draining and stressful for parents. 

Many parents put their own feelings on the back burner to focus on helping their child make the transition to college and don't fully process how the change impacts them until weeks and months later.

Here is a little food for thought for new parents of college students to keep in mind as they make this transition with their student.

Student Normal Reactions to Have When Your Student Enters College  

  • Sense of loneliness 

  • Independence  

  • Depression

Adjustments You May Experience

  • Adjusting to fewer people at home

  • Re-establishing your personal identity

  • Having separation anxiety from your student

  • Trying to fill a void

  • Relinquishing control

  • Being left out of your student’s daily activities           

  • Concerned with student’s new independence

How Your Relationship With Your Child May Change 

  • Provide support and freedom to your student

  • Develop new interests of your own

  • Trust your student to be a young adult

  • Guide rather than pressure your student

  • Allow for mistakes

  • Determine appropriate expectations

  • Offer advice when asked and listen

  • Support your student’s problem-solving skills

  • Realize your student’s life is his/her own

  • Accept your student’s limits and strengths

  • Expect change

  • Stay connected to your student

  • Be patient and give your student time to adjust

Suggested Resources

  • Join or form a parent support group in-person or via social media
  • Read "Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years" by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger