Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

August 12, 2013

Helping College Freshmen Say Good-bye to Mom and Dad

There is a good chance that some of your former students are off to college within the next week or so, a first time living away from home. While the situation will have some emotional stress for the teens, perhaps more of the stress will weigh on the shoulders of mom and dad as they witness their child heading off to the world of freedom and independence. If you have a chance to confer with teens you know, offer some general advice on how to handle the last good-byes around the dorm room. These six tips are taken from Ready for College: Everything You Need to Know by Michael Pennock.

Tips for College Freshmen

Be patient with your parents and yourself. Here are six general tips on how to handle those last good-byes.

  1. Let your mom (or dad) make your bed, organize your clothing in your drawers, or hand up one of your posters. This will help them feel like they put their own stamp on your living space. You can always rearrange your room the way you'd like after they leave for home! Also, you might want to ask your mom or dad some advice on where to put your desk or help with setting up or dismantling a bunk or loft.

  2. You might have a younger brother or sister who "adores" you and has come along on the trip. If so, lucky you! But know that it may be very tough for them to say good- bye to their hero. Let them help set up your room too. Show them frequent signs of affection. Promise you will text or email them often.

  3. Formally introduce your parents to your roommate and your resident advisor (RA). This will help you to establish the tone that accompanies a more mature child/parent relationship.

  4. If possible, to to dinner with your folks if this is something they really want to do. This would be a good time to:

    Thank them for everything.

    Reassure them that you will call, Skype, text, or email regularly. (Make sure to follow through with your promise.)

    If your college has orientation during move-in week, let them know about any interesting activities that you have experienced so far.

    Invite them to Parents' Weekend (usually six to eight weeks into the first semester). Tell them you genuinely want them (and your siblings) to be there.

  5. Walk your parents to the car when they are ready to go home. Leave your roommate and new friends back in the dorm. Share some hugs and kisses and tears—all of which are easier to exchange if strangers are not around. Say what your heart tells you to say. If you find it difficult to do so, write out a letter ahead of time and give it to your folks to read on the way home. They will love your thoughtfulness. But keep it light too. This not the permanent farewell known as death; you will see them again.

  6. As you return, alone, to your dorm, say a prayer for your parents' safe return home and for the strength to live by the values they have taught you.

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