Here are a few tips for parents who have children heading off to college:

—Talk about the transition — and the contradictory feelings your whole family may be feeling (excitement, sadness, anxiety).

—Be honest about how you're feeling, but also be encouraging. Express excitement about your child's future.

—Give advice, but only when requested. Consider responding with "What do you think?" or "How would you do it?" Don't be in a rush to problem-solve for your freshman.

—Unless there is a serious emergency, let your child find and use the many resources on campus that will help him or her solve those problems.

—Remember that emotions are particularly cranked up during times of transition. Cut each other some slack.

—Talk about how home will be the same, yet different — but don't be in a rush to take over your child's room immediately. Your freshman still needs to know he or she has a place at home, at least at first.

—Make definite plans to see one another and talk about those plans.

—Attend to the feelings of your other children.

—And remember: It's OK to let yourself feel miserable about your college student leaving home, for a while. Then remind yourself that your child is not responsible for your happiness.


(Sources: Linda Bips, Muhlenberg College; Marshall Duke, Emory University)