Empty Nest College Prep for Parents
Most parents assisting their student in the college process have little thought about what happens to them when the nest empties. Many anxious hours may be spent thinking about where the college-bound will go, what the costs will be, and how to pay for it. Minds may be occupied with providing opportunities for academic and extracurricular activities to beef up student qualifications. Families may be using the parent-student team approach to join together, brainstorm ideas, and delegate tasks. What happens to the family when the student leaves for college is rarely on the agenda.
Unfortunately, the empty nest syndrome is a real problem for unprepared parents. They may find it difficult to adjust to a new home order when a teen trades his bedroom for a dormitory. The feelings of loneliness, worry and fear may overwhelm. And when he returns during a break or visit, it won’t be the same. That’s because the parent-child relationship is also transitioning to a parent-adult child relationship.
Perspective and preparation can help. The journey to a college-bound child’s independence is part of the cycle of life. It begins by rearing an offspring with the tools to thrive as an adult. It concludes with him becoming a successful, self-sufficient college graduate. In between, parents get to watch the birth of their adult baby and his start assuming adult responsibilities.
As their child goes through his rite of passage, parents can congratulate themselves for a job well done and prepare for their own next stage: long distance parenting. This can start during college prep with a talk about communication expectations in college. Come up with an agreed method, frequency and duration of contact. Everyone should expect regular followup to ensure the student maximizes his higher education opportunities, addresses problems as they arise, and stays on track to graduate on time.
Although the college process is all about giving the student the best chance for success, parents can do the same for themselves. With a bit of introspection, parents can think about their own interests, talents, skills and goals. They can create a list of great empty nest fillers to try something new or go to the next level for something familiar. They can select favorite hobbies, classes or groups. They can check out free or low cost offerings at local libraries, school district adult education centers, and colleges.
It is very important not to forget about others populating the rest of the empty nest. The student’s siblings and pets may also have their own separation anxiety. They may need new activities and more attention, too. The bonus is more quality time with other children before they also morph into adults and go to college.
With an empty nest college prep plan in place, the whole family will be ready when the student leaves for college. The best part is the family bond remains strong and ready for college and beyond.
Wendy David-Gaines, aka POCSmom, provides information and insights about the parent role in the college process to make it less stressful and more fun for the college-bound and their families. She is founder of POCSmom.com, author of Parents Of College Students Survival Stories, and Long Island mother of two children who have graduated from college with self-supporting jobs. Wendy is the Long Island College Prep Examiner offering timely college prep tips and must-know info for families.
|Tags: College prep, Empty nest, High School, Parents|