When I danced before college, I developed a lot of friendships with dancers who were younger than me and have carried these friendships through the years I have lived. Most of those dancers I am friends with just graduated and are packing up to leave for their first year of college. I have seen many posts on my Facebook about how difficult of a time this is for the parents and they are so scared to not have their children home with them anymore, and I get it, I really do. Leaving for college was very difficult for me and my mother because that is all we have ever known. Being an only child, I am everything to my mom. But I'm here to tell you that it gets easier and remind you of why this transition is so important for your student.
My mom and I have a hard time parting every single time that I leave, especially this year when I lived in Normal all summer. We shed a few tears and give a hug and say "I love you and miss you already" all before the time that I get in the car to leave. It is a difficult thing to do because you are so used to seeing them every day and spending a lot of time with them. I'm the type of person that will call my mom every day because that's just who I am.
But I think the key here is that I am the one reaching out to my mom. Some kids want this separation for certain reasons but if you give them the little bit of space they want, they'll come back to you. Limit the times that YOU call or text to one conversation a day or send a good morning and goodnight text to make sure they're alive and doing well – in which they are. We don't like to feel like we have parents still hovering over everything we do because this is the time we are supposed to be learning how to really do things for ourselves.
My freshman year was extremely difficult for me because I didn't have any opportunities to go home for a weekend due to rehearsals and other commitments. This meant that from August until Thanksgiving break, I was at school. Throwing a freshman into that sort of lifestyle was super hard because I felt homesick and couldn't do anything about it.
Your student will feel homesick too. This is their first time being away from home for a long period of time and it's going to be hard for both of you, but if they are close enough to visit home for a weekend, they will. If they are far away from home, care packages can make them feel special but videos of their puppy or their cat or even their little brother will make them feel special and remember that you guys are thinking about them.
Homesickness is another reason that your student might not be talking to you as much as you would like. This is because they want to make you proud and being homesick or wanting to come home makes them feel as if they're giving up and they don't want to tell you about that.
As parents, you have to make it OK for us to miss you. Yes, school is important and you always need to try hard but if open communication is there, it is a lot easier for us to pick up that phone and hear your voice. Our parents sometimes forget that college is hard and it isn't going to breeze as easy as high school was. If we get a bad grade on something, we're probably already freaking out about it and we don't want to call home if we know all you are going to do is yell at us about it. I know it's hard to admit but we are all adults and we have to learn how to do things for ourselves, we need your support right now, not your discipline.
The transition to college is extremely important for young adults. This is what helps us become independent. It teaches us who we really are and it also shows us the type of people we like to be around. Your student is strong and determined and so are you. You can get through this because you love your child and want the best for them.
College is the start of their future and career, and while it's hard for them to go away, they'll always find their way back home. We live in a world with readily available communication, and while it is always there, it is easy to forget sometimes. Do what my mom does and send an "Are you alive?" text and just wait for that little yes response. It'll put you at ease and it'll fill their heart knowing that you trust them and support them in doing this. I promise everything will be OK and at the end of their time in college, they'll have you to thank.