Tips for Parents

Having your child begin his or her college career can be a stressful experience, especially if your son or daughter has not lived away from home before. During this important time of transition, many parents put their own feelings and reactions on hold while helping their child prepare for college life. Attending to your own emotional needs, however, as well as your child's, will go a long way toward helping everyone feel comfortable with the challenges that going to college represents.

Read below to find some coping strategies and "food for thought" that might help you over the next few months.

Recognize that feelings of ambivalence about your child's leaving home are normal.
For most families, this step can seem like a dramatic separation of parent and child, although it is usually the separation of adult from almost adult. It is normal, too, to look forward to the relative peace and quiet of having your active older adolescent out of the house and having the place to yourself, or being able to spend time with your younger children!

Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions arise.
Little benefit comes from pretending you don't feel sad, guilty, relieved, apprehensive, or whatever feelings you do have, while your child is getting ready to come to Mercyhurst. You probably aren't fooling anyone by trying to hide your reactions; a healthier approach is to talk about them-with your family, friends, clergy, or whoever is a source of support for you.

Make "overall wellness" a goal for yourself.
Especially during stressful times, it helps to get enough sleep, eat healthful meals regularly, and get adequate exercise. Spending some recharging time doing the special things that you especially like-is another step toward wellness. If you are feeling good, you are more likely to have the energy to help your child and be a good role model.

Remember, for your child, coming to Mercyhurst College is a tremendously important developmental step toward full adulthood.
It represents the culmination of the teachings and learning of 18 years or so, much of it geared toward helping your child assume a productive place in the world. This is the time when your hard work will show itself in the form of a framework that your freshman will use in beginning to make independent choices. Many parents find that it helps to focus on the fact that providing your child with this opportunity is a priceless gift.
Be proud of yourself!

Find a new creative outlet for yourself.
Especially parents whose last or only child has moved away to college find that taking on a new challenge is an excellent way to manage and channel their energy and feelings. Have you ever wanted to write a book? Learn to fly-fish? Make a quilt? Volunteer in your community? Assume a new project or responsibility at work? Travel? Get your own bicycle and ride all over town? Make a list of all the things you intended to do while your child was growing up, but never had the time to do. Now is your chance!

(Adapted from University of Texas Counseling & Mental Health Center website)

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