Leaving the Nest

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How Parents Can Help!

“Leaving the Nest” was the expression that I had heard and read over and over again when I was preparing to “you-know-what” and start my college career. The oldest of five children, I felt like I was charting new territory and wondered if my parents would experience any “empty nest syndrome,” as I was their first “baby” and the only girl. When I mentioned this my mother as we were stocking up at Costco, she laughed and said, “Are you kidding? The nest is still full.” And then she made a blowing noise, flapped her arms and said “Fly! Fly!” To say the least, I was a little disappointed that she would not be ast least a little traumatized, but could not help but laugh at her flapping. But then she clarified, “I figure that we have done something right if you want to leave the nest and if you are prepared – which you are.”

Good old mom, put it in perspective, leaving home is a natural transition that marks growth and maturity, it is a loss, but one with many more gains.

One of the most valuable things that you can do as a parent is remind your student that they are starting a great learning process, in and out of the classroom. Resist the temptation to get “caught up” in their anxiety, but listen with a calm and open mind. Ask good questions. Give encouragement, not easy ways out of roommate conflicts, tests, and other important lessons.

If you want your son or daughter to stay the same person, do not send them to college. If you want them to grow into a mature, responsible, independent, and caring member of society, then encourage them on their path.

Realize that there will be seasons of learning and growth. Every student is different and unique, but the following are some of the seasons your student may experience:

The Pre Move-In Day Roller Coaster:

Starting sometime after High School graduation and ending with a loop-de-loop on move in day, you and your student may find yourselves riding an emotional rollercoaster and your whole family prepares for the transition. Tempers may run a little short. You may find that some family traditions seem to take on more emphasis and at the same time family time becomes more scarce. Your student may spend more time focused on saying goodbye to friends that savor their last days under your roof. It doesn’t mean you are less important, it means they are secure in your relationship and may be working to cement ties they are more concerned about. Your student may become more “huggy.” Then again they may push you away. You may think puberty is back for a second round. The key here is to communicate.

The Roommate Wall:

For those who politely adjusted to having a roommate and tolerated annoying habits for the sake of harmony in a new living situations, things start to blow up about the fourth week in. Tired of being polite, “little issues” puff up like a marshmellow in a microwave and “pop!” and can explode into a goey mess. Some parents get calls demanding a single room, looking for someone to be on their side or just to vent. Before you rent them their own condo, ask some good questions.

First Test Adjustments:

Even really great students have to make adjustments after their first test or assignment. Different instructors have different expectations. Most expectations are clearly laid out in the syllabus, but sometimes that first test, assignment, or paper will clarify just how much they care about class works versus reading, etc. If your student is used to exceeding expectations, that first test may have them a little panicky. Encourage them to use it as a learning experience – no matter what the results are!

Mid Term Reality
Thanksgiving Break


Home for the Holidays

A Fresh Start

Winter Blues

Spring Break

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