As excited as you are that your teen’s going to college, it’s normal to have mixed emotions, such as anxiety, sadness and possibly depression. It’s even normal to feel envious that his or her life is just beginning while yours is on the wane.

For most parents, this rush of emotions will pass, but both generations might have to work to ease the transition, especially if your child is also experiencing a mix of joy and apprehension, which often manifests as bickering with mom and dad.

Parents will need to loosen the reins and acknowledge that their child is his or her own person and may not see eye-to-eye with them on everything anymore. Realize that this is a natural progression in their development, not a rejection of you or an end to your closeness. And take comfort in the fact that most college students still care more about what mom and dad think than they let on.

Coping Strategies at a Glance

  • Have a plan for staying in touch.
  • Explore new challenges of your own.
  • Start to reconnect with old friends.
  • Get support from different sources.

One way to ease anxiety is to agree upfront on how often you’ll communicate, such as once a week, and how you’ll do it. Video chats are great for bridging a physical distance. Texts can be brief and less intrusive on your teen while still being reassuring for you.

Don’t forget to enjoy this special milestone in your child’s life and consider the positives it may bring to your own, like time to reconnect with your partner and a wider circle of friends.

If you still feel blue after a few weeks, talk it out with other parents in the same situation. But if you have feelings of depression that don’t get better, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider.

More information

Set-to-Go, a program from the Jed Foundation, has more on helping all family members with the transitionfrom high school to college.