Coping When Your Child Leaves for University

It might be that you were looking forward to your child or children going off to university but maybe the reality is actually very different from how you imagined. In fact, you might be finding it difficult to cope, whether this is your first child leaving (a big change but you might have younger ones at home) or your last child leaving the ‘nest’.

Yes, you thought you were prepared for this from the day they got their A Level results but maybe you were carried along with the need to help them prepare for the big day, buying duvets and cheap pots and pans and helping them in any way possible.

Of course, they’d been growing up and hopefully becoming more independent but the reality of them no longer being in the family home can hit very hard. Yes, everything’s tidier and you’re no longer awake until the early hours listening for them coming home and locking up the front door, but the actual reality of not having them around on a day-to-day basis can really take you by surprise.

Whether they jumped straight in and loved university life from the start or in fact were quite miserable and lonely at first, necessitating nightly phone calls and reassurance from you, you might still have been hit with sadness once they were no longer living with you. Its as if you’re grieving, which you are, and there’s often a real intensity in the loss because it’s a big change to come to terms with, even though you’re happy for them to have this opportunity.

So, how do you cope with this big change in your life?

  • First of all, accept that it’s natural – you’re human, you love them and it’s a huge change.
  • Mobile phones are a godsend – they can send you photos and vice-versa plus you can text, even if they don’t always reply.
  • Try not to be over-involved in their university careers – let them know that you’re they’re if they need you but accept that they’ll sometimes make mistakes. When parents always hover nearby, whether or not they’re actually needed, it doesn’t give their offspring the opportunity to learn how to resolve some situations themselves.
  • Sometimes, Student Services may be able to help them more than you’re able to and might be a more useful option in some circumstances
  • Although it’s tempting to encourage them to come home frequently at weekends, a lot of social bonding at university goes on at weekends and coming home a lot means that they’re constantly readjusting to one life or the other.
  • Of course, there’s a fine balance here as you don’t want them to struggle and not be able to confide in you, but they do need to become more autonomous, otherwise the world of work may seem overwhelming when they reach it on a full-time basis.
  • Recognise that this is a time for you or, if you have a partner, a time when you can reconnect in a different way now that you can focus on one another again.
  • Take care of yourself and start putting things in place that help you to rediscover who you are and what you like doing, rather than putting children’s needs first all of the time. Practice mindfulness and make sure that you eat healthily, if you’ve let that lapse at times.
  • Try to enjoy this time, even though you’ll see less of them – it’s a new phase for everyone and if your child sees that you’re managing well, it will encourage them to do the same.

I hope that you’ve found this blog useful – please comment if you’d like to do so and you can follow me as well, meaning that you’ll get an update each time I write something new.

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