We took our son to college a few days ago. Now there’s a big empty space in our lives and where his stuff use to be. He’s our oldest. The one we learned how to parent with.
If you have kids, you know you spend the first 4 years of their lives saying “do this” and “don’t do that.” Then before you know it they’re leaving for college and it’s our turn to learn some things.
Basically it comes down to two things: let them make their own decisions and don’t embarrass them. For example:
- Don’t put little notes in their underwear drawer that say: “You should have at least six pairs of dirty underwear by the weekend, or you aren’t changing them enough.”
- Don’t embarrass them in front of their new friends by saying things like: “Remember, eating too much fried foods will make your face break out. If it does, use the oatmeal/cranberry face mask I packed with the baby powder.”
- Don’t set up an ironing board in their dorm room and insist on ironing their clothes before they go in their closet. And definitely don’t take their roommate’s clothes out and iron them too.
- Don’t try to one-up the roommate’s family by sharing the fact that your son was the winner of the Teenie-Weenie Scientist Atom Drawing Contest when he was three years old.
- Don’t push him towards every new student in the hallway and say “Go introduce yourself.”
- Don’t text him the minute he’s out of sight to see if he needs you to come get him.
Yes, it’s going to be hard knowing he’s not in his room playing video games. Or out with his friends eating junk food and playing Magic until 2 a.m. Or see him sitting at the table with earbuds in watching Netflix on his phone unaware that you’ve been talking to him for twenty minutes. But you have to put on your poker face and let him go. Technically, he stays and you go, but you get the idea.
If you really want to be one of the cool parents, there are only two questions to ask:
1) Do you need any money? and
2) Do you want me to leave now?
Then get in the car, take a deep breath and cry your eyes out.