What about the child who is dissolving into a puddle on the floor at the mere thought of leaving? Don't panic. Remember what it was like when you left that same child howling when being dropped off at daycare. You stood around feeling guilty and panicky, then peeked into the window of his classroom and saw your child happily playing with his friends. The same dynamic is often repeating itself.
In fact, sometimes the children who are able to share their worries ahead of time may have it easier once they're away. In our family, the child who appeared the most prepared and stoic going into college ended up to be the one who called home the most after she got to school.
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As for the ones you doubted could ever manage to get from their dorm room to their classes on a daily basis? They may very well surprise you. One of my fondest memories of my son's college career was when he said, "I overslept and missed the bus on my last trip home, so I made sure to get up on time for this trip!"
I was pleased for two reasons: First, he had a great learning experience and second, I was not there to witness all the emotional fallout that accompanied this learning experience on that morning he missed the bus.
Get as much support as you can for yourself, from those who have gone through this process already.
And if they don't seem able to learn on their own? Encourage them to get support from those around them, on the college campus. Counselors, friends and RAs all can help with the transition. Hard as it may be to let go, this is their journey, and they need to start finding their own way.
Get as much support as you can for yourself, from those who have gone through this process already. Try not to focus on all the things you feel you need to do for them. This is your child's adventure. No matter what happens, she will be learning more about herself and her surrounding world.
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My next few stories will discuss specific situations you may encounter during your child's first few years away. In the meantime, remember what one colleague of mine, who had a son struggling tremendously with bipolar disorder during his teenage and young adult years, but is now an employed, married father of two: “Try not to take the ups and downs too seriously. In the long run, they will work it out and all the turmoil will fade away.”
Hang in there and take care of yourself!
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