Parenting is all about raising your child to eventually be an independent adult, but when the time comes for them to move out and go to college, it can still be tough on you.
If your child is college-bound, there are two elements to the kind of preparation that you need to do.
First, you need to help your child get ready, and then, you need to prepare yourself for this big change in lifestyle.
1. Choosing a College
Your child may have their heart set on a certain school, or they might have no idea where to start choosing.
Either way, you can help them find their calling in life while you help with this specific process.
If they are determined to attend a certain school but it’s one they may not get accepted to, you can help them choose other safe options that they can still get excited about.
If they don’t know where to start, you can start by asking them questions.
What do they want to study? Do they want to go to a big school or a small one? Do they want to be in a big city or a smaller college town?
This can help you start to narrow down choices.
2. Financial Planning
The cost of college can also be an element that helps you narrow things down, but it does not have to have as big an impact on those choices as you may think.
Some expensive schools may offer full scholarships or other generous financial aid packages to some students.
Keep in mind that taking out student loans from private lenders is another possibility. You can see if your child is eligible for private student loans.
Unlike federal loans, these are not based on need, so you may be able to borrow more. You may also want to help your kid create a budget for their first semester.
3. Keeping the Connection
A tough balancing act in many families is between giving your child enough independence and being there for them when they need you.
It can be hard to know how much communication is just right, especially since your own college experience was probably very different and may not have even involved having a cell phone.
This will vary from family to family, so with some kids, you may need to gently encourage them to try to work out some issues on their own without constantly texting you.
With others, you may need to set up an appointment for phone or video check-ins to make sure you still hear from them.
4. Expecting the Empty Nest
The empty nest can be a shock even for parents who are looking forward to having some of their own time and space back.
The best way to prepare for it is to start early and discuss what your life will be like with your partner if you have one.
Too often, parents focus so much on bringing up their children that they lose sight of one another.
Making plans together for what you want to do in the years after your kids move out and knowing that you may have to put some effort into reconnecting can make this process less difficult.
Daydream about how now you can relax at the beach while on vacation instead of having to be at the mercy of your children’s schedules, wants, and needs.