By Jenny Gregory (with the help of some veteran moms and dads)

It seems like yesterday your son or daughter was saying their first words and taking those first steps. Fast forward what feels like a few hours, and he is embarking on one of the biggest journeys – college. As a mom, the thought of my kids leaving the nest only calls for one thing – tissues. However, many moms and dads have gone before us and offer some helpful advice to rookie college parents. So, how do you minimize the tears and roll with the changes?

Plan something fun for YOU
When it’s time to go…leave! Don’t linger. It only makes saying goodbye more difficult. Take a trip. Head to the beach or somewhere you will enjoy. Have a plan in place! Your life is not over. Your child is beginning a new chapter and so are YOU!

Get connected
Help your student find a local church BEFORE moving in! This way, he will have a little head start and a place to worship before arriving to school. He may even meet some fellow college ‘newbies’ too! It can make a WORLD of a difference!

Send frames and photos
Our homes are filled with framed pictures to remind us of special memories…or why we’re glad that haircut went out of style . Be sure to send some of those memories of family in case your student gets lonely (and don’t forget to snag a pic of Penelope, the pet hamster, too).

Keep the packages coming
It’s an emotional day but exciting all at the same time. (Sunglasses are a great asset to have on move-in day)! Although you’ll probably stock his dorm room before you leave, send a care package with some favorites. Who doesn’t like getting a package in the mail? And it may just come at a time he needs it. One parent included silly string as a reminder that it’s ok to let go and be silly through the stress of all the changes.

Remember the power of Prayer
Get a copy of his course schedule and pray over each class and professor. Create a prayer journal that you can share with him at the end of each year.

Write often
Handwrite your child a letter (to be opened after you leave). Include useful, practical advice such as, “always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.” Include a note of encouragement, and perhaps, reflect on some of your fondest memories in college. A keepsake he will treasure forever.

Will life ever be the same? The advice I gleaned from these veteran parents tells me that, no, things will not be the same. It’s not easy. But isn’t college, independence and a chance to shine, exactly what we raise them to experience? Rest assured, they will thrive! These years will be among the best. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

My hope for you, Mom and Dad, is that these tips will help relieve some of the anxiety. You’ve raised an amazing young adult, and it’s time for him to shine. Oh, and don’t worry, he will probably be back for a few holidays, breaks or summers during the next four years (with his laundry).

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Jenny Gregory is the Digital Content Media for Truett McConnell University.

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