You let go of her hands when she took her first steps.
You let go of the bicycle as he sailed solo on two wheels.
You let go of the car keys as she skipped toward the car, ready to grab the wheel for the first time.
On this Mother’s Day, your little one is about to graduate high school. He may be entering the workforce, the military or technical school, going on a mission trip or hiking the Appalachian Trail. In any case, it’s time to let go again.
And if he’s going to college, we have some advice for you from local university administrators.
If it’s three days past move-in day at college and you’re sleeping in your kid’s dorm room, this is not OK.
If you find yourself writing emails to professors from your child’s account or, God forbid, writing an essay for class, this is not OK.
If you’re calling administrators to check whether your child is showing up to class, this is not OK.
If you’re filling out your child’s roommate preference form or pushing university staff out of the way so you can register your child, this is not OK.
And yes, these things all have happened at local universities, according to administrators at Brenau University and the University of North Georgia.
It is OK, however, to shed a few tears — maybe more than a few. Just try not to embarrass your kid in front of new roommates and potential friends.
You are an important guide for your child. It’s helpful to offer advice about which major to choose. Listen to complaints about roommate drama. But let them make some decisions. It’s even OK to let them fail now and again.
In the past 15 years or so, some college administrations have given up pushing back against helicopter parents who want to be involved in every detail of the lives of their children, now adults, according to Amanda Lammers, vice president for student services at Brenau University.
“If you can’t beat them, join them,” she said.
University staff recognize parents play an important role in their child’s life. They work with them to help students become more independent. Perhaps this is the best approach in 2017. Admittedly, we’re a bit saddened some students aren’t more independent when they leave high school.
There are a few things you can keep in mind, though, to mold your offspring into successful adults.
When she was a baby, she cried in the middle of the night. At first, you crawled out of bed to feed her. As she grew older, a wait-and-see approach worked a bit better. She learned to go back to sleep on her own.
Take a similar approach when your child calls for help. Lammers said a situation may sound urgent in the moment, but by the next day, she may have moved on by herself.
If you child lands in hot water, perhaps by violating student conduct rules, university officials advice you don’t intervene in the disciplinary process. They view such procedures as learning experiences and hope that you do, too. Let your child grow from the consequences of his actions.
Let your child know she might fail. More of today’s students haven’t been allowed to do so before, but they will eventually. She may struggle in a history class she thought would be a breeze. He may get fired from a part-time job. She may get kicked out of a sorority or student housing. The first failure is hard. It’s defeating. Let your child know failures will teach him, and that growth is all worth it.
Understand, too, that friends, instructors, coaches and others will have greater influence in your child’s life, sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse. Either way, it is a natural process of their growing independence, so accept it. It’s not that your voice is no longer heard, just that it’s not the only voice in their ear.
Your love and guidance isn’t expected to end when your child leaves home. But your role does change.
In another few years, they will graduate again or may move on to the next stage in their lives. Making sure they’re ready may require less oversight rather than more.
Thanks to Amanda Lammers of Brenau University, and Michelle Brown, Alyson Paul and Cara Ray, deans of students at the University of North Georgia, for their input.
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