DR. CELESTE OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
You spent the last eighteen years protecting your child from the dangers of the real world. Lessons were taught along the way explaining how to stay safe and how to stay away from negative influences. As the end of their senior year approached, it started hitting you that things would be different very soon; your child would be attending college. Near or far it is still hard to adjust to these changes.
At times, you felt fear wondering if they would be okay on their own. Other times, you felt pure joy knowing they will have such memorable experiences coming their way. Either way, it is still hard to let go.
Not seeing them around the house is difficult and the silence you once wished for is now too quiet for your liking. You miss your child and they undoubtedly miss you too, even though they may not say or show it.
Believe it or not, it is hard for many college students to be away from home. As much as they may have told you they could not wait to leave for college, once they move into their dorms and the thrill starts to wear off a bit, it can start to feel lonely.
You may start to notice an increase in phone calls or text messages from your child. Use these times as cues that your child misses you. The key of letting go is to allow your children to become independent and functional adults. This does not mean, however, that you cannot check in to ask how they are doing, to see if they need anything, or to ask how they are feeling. They may not reveal anything at that moment, but they are listening. They will remember that Mom and Dad care.
You had countless moments when they drove you absolutely crazy, but you honestly would not trade those memories for anything. Each time they visit home, they crave Mom’s cooking, hanging out with Dad, and sleeping in their old bed. These are their new memories that they will take with them and cherish, especially during those lonely nights.
Remember, we all need our parents, no matter how old we are. Remind yourselves to be present, to be available, and to be open, because you never know what they will share with you and when they will need you most.
Give yourselves permission to make your own interests a priority if you have some extra time on your hands now. Start scheduling more outings with loved ones, pick up a hobby, or simply do nothing at all. These ideas may seem completely foreign to you, as you have spent years putting your family’s needs before your own. However, you matter as well and it is beneficial for your children to see that Mom and Dad are doing just fine and that life is continuously meant to be lived.
Celeste Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. Visit www.TherapyForModernHousewives.com.