You’re on your way to drop your child off at college, baffled by the strange mixture of feelings you’re experiencing. You may be feeling sadness, joy, and anxiety all at the same time. Yes, these three emotions can co-exist. You are NOT losing your sanity. AND, you are in the good and plentiful company of thousands of other similarly perplexed parents. So, it is not surprising that you are not quite sure how to handle the break-up when you say goodbye. Oops, I meant to say parent-teen separation, not break-up. It really is a tricky time and experience. Having been through this more than once, I’d like to offer you a mini guide on how to deal with the separation part:
1. Rather Than: Sobbing uncontrollably and reassuring your child that they can come home at any time. Try Saying: “Have a wonderful time. I know that it will take a little time to get used to the new routine.”
2. Rather Than: Walking unsteadily toward your car with clear worry written all over your face. Try: Smiling at them and embracing them in a reassuring manner when you leave.
3. Rather Than: Acting like it’s all about you. Try: Acting like it’s about them.
4. Rather Than: Treating the separation as a traumatic loss. Try: Treating this like a joyful transition.
And if all else fails, fake it. Act like you are upbeat and confident because your teen will take cues from you!