Yes, it is August even though the weather feels reminiscent of September. The calendar and the back to school ads remind us of what is coming quickly. The ritual of packing up cars, after too many shopping trips to purchase extra long sheets and shower caddies, is just around the corner. The process of preparing to launch your freshman son or daughter can be fraught with a multitude of emotions. As we tend to all the details of opening bank accounts and making sure the “must have” list is completed, I want to encourage all parents and “NQA’s” (Not Quite Adult) to take a moment and reflect.
This time of launching is another developmental step, following so many previous steps. If you close your eyes I am sure you could bring back the image of the first day of Kindergarten, first day at Middle School, first day at High School. The drop off to college is similar in many ways, but is very, very different in some profoundly important aspects. Even today I can remember watching my parents drive away from my dorm with remarkable clarity. I remember turning around and thinking, “OK, here we go”.
Do you feel your heart beating a bit faster as you prepare for drop off? Do you find yourself a bit overwhelmed and leaning toward the urge to “cram” in all of the necessary “life instructions” over the next couple of weeks? Do you feel excited and proud of what is about to happen? Are you wondering how you will react, how family life will change when you return from their college campus? Is your son or daughter a bit “testier” than normal? Do they alternate that mood with hanging closer than usual? If so, you need to know all this is perfectly normal.
It is important to attend to all the emotions and details, while working hard to stay steady and focused. Spend time thinking about what you want them to know as they leave the nest. If talking works great, if not writing offers an alternative for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. You will never regret it. Tell them you love them, share with them your values about drinking, drug use, risky behavior. It is also very important to give them permission to go forward and explore their soon to be new world. Be mindful of establishing an understanding of how to stay connected and in touch. Encourage them to be open to what is ahead while reminding them the roots they have had with you will always be there.
Take a deep breath and many photos!!!