"When Your Kid Goes to College"
Full title: When Your Kid Goes to College:
A Parent's Survival Guide
Written by: Carol Barkin
Review By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D
I recommend this book to parents struggling with an empty nest as a "support group with a binding" and for parents preparing to let their kids go off to college. It is supportive, reassuring, and practical.
It provides both the parent and student perspectives on celebrations and rituals, packing, emotional ups and down, relationships, and many great suggestions for how to share the process in divorced families.
For those of you readers whose children have gone off to college, sit back and gloat that you survived. For those of you approaching the college years, this is a wake-up call. Start preparing your children to be independent now. Do not delay!
Barkin describes the months before the student leaves for college as intense. For the student, there is major emotional upheaval. Underneath the excitement of graduating from high school and starting college are fears about whether or not they selected the right school, will make friends, and know what they need to survive in college.
Some teens also feel a little sad that their childhood is drawing to an end and the security of home can no longer be taken for granted.
Parents have spent months worrying about issues as diverse as whether the school their child will be attending will nurture their brilliance, and whether the co-ed showers will be an issue. Every family says goodbye – whether it is at an airport, a new campus, or even on the phone – and then there is the emptier nest.
Whether you have other children or not, there will be an empty spot in the car, at the table, and in family debates. You will miss your child. This is normal.
Try and let your child dictate how much contact you have. S/he is also trying to get used to the new life. Telling him or her that you miss them terribly is a burden they do not need – they cannot fix it – that is your job.
According to this book, most parents suggest "filling the holes." Start a new project, take a weekend getaway, talk to other parents whose children also have just left, or spend extra time with the children at home. In other words, find something positive to think about – not just the child you are missing.
One very important warning in this book is about the first time you visit your child at school. Be prepared for some awkwardness and for your child not to spend every minute with you. Be prepared to be shown around and then left alone at times. This is a good thing – it means they are adjusting.
As with any transition in life, you are not alone. Reach out – talk about how it feels to have your kid leaving for college. Forgive yourself for wishing s/he was still at home instead of grown up. This is all good!
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