Parents: Tips for Managing the Stress of Leaving Your College Student
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—In just a few weeks, parents will begin to drop off sons and daughters—along with their numerous boxes of belongings—at colleges and universities everywhere. While adjusting to life on campus can be a challenging time for new students, most parents experience mixed emotions about the transition too.
At Smith College, Barbara Brehm-Curtis, professor of exercise and sport studies, teaches undergraduates about nutrition and health, health behavior and stress management. After 21 years at the college, she has a few tips for parents, as well.
“On the one hand, parents are happy that their children have made it through high school and are becoming adults,” said Brehm-Curtis. “But they also realize that they have less and less control over their child’s life, so they worry instead.”
To buffer the stress and anxiety of a son or daughter leaving home:
• Talk to other parents who have gone through this transition. Seek counseling if your worries are disruptive.
• Arrange with your son or daughter a mutually convenient time for a weekly telephone conversation. Regular e-mail is also nice.
• Develop rewarding hobbies and activities. Parental responsibilities often keep people from spending as much time as they would like in recreational pursuits. When your children leave home, you now have an opportunity to do new things.
• Spend time with other people you care about. Parental responsibilities also likely cut into the time you spent with friends when your child was at home. Now is the time to reconnect.
• Exercise is the best antidote to aging. One of the issues for parents whose offspring are starting college is the realization that one phase of their own life is ending. Yes—time is passing and you are getting older—but you do not have to look and feel that way.
• Set an example for your child by making good decisions. Parental advice about developing a healthy lifestyle will carry more weight if your words are backed by a good example of physical activity and good nutrition. Although your child is at college, he or she still notices what you do.
• Finally, missing your children is a normal feeling. Allow yourself time to experience this grieving process. Grab a box of tissues and leaf through the photo album to find the image of your child graduating from kindergarten.
The Exercise and Sport Studies Department at Smith offers performance and exercise-related courses, a minor and a graduate program with a primary emphasis on training coaches of women’s teams.
Smith is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,600 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.
Office of College
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174