A child leaving home is clearly one of life's biggest changes and maybe one of the
toughest transitions you'll face as a parent. While your child's safety and well-being
is crucial, it's also important to take care of yourself during this transition. Here
are a few tips and resources you may find useful and helpful.
First, realize it's normal to experience a range of emotions when a child leaves the
home. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up. Fighting them will only make
them feel more unmanageable. If your feelings are becoming unmanageable, consider
seeing a counselor or therapist. Asking for help is a sign of strength and resourcefulness.
Being a parent is just one aspect of your life. Stop and identify the other roles
you play. Part of honoring yourself is seeing the entirety of who you are.
Consider what family means to you. Who is supportive of you? Spend time with people
who know you well and who will honor the journey this transition represents for you.
Talk with your family about what this change means to you. How is your relationship
with your spouse or partner different now? How is it the same?
Seek support from family and friends. Ask others how they've dealt with similar transitions.
Doing a ritual to mark this life transition can be deeply rewarding. A ritual can
be as simple as burning sage to start anew, or as complex as holding a ceremony with
others. Make it yours.
Consider creating a sacred space in your home. You might use it for journaling, meditating,
praying, or making art. This space might be a corner, a table, or an entire room.
Make it work for you.
Have a conversation with your family about how you'll use the space that was your
child's bedroom. There is no right way to do this, but involving the whole family
in the dialogue is important.
Times of transition can allow us to make other changes in our lives. What changes
have you been waiting to make? Perhaps now is the time to implement some of your ideas.
Resource Guide for Parents and Families
This brief resource guide for parents and families is a great resource to get you
started on your journey! We would also like you to know that you can always contact
us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Supporting Your Student While They Are in School
Many parents wonder how they can support their adult children while they are away
from home. Here are some ideas about how to interact with your adult child while
they are away.
Be clear. Be specific with your expectations with them as they start college. This includes
topics such as alcohol and drug use, sexuality, budgeting and finances, and academics.
These conversations should be ongoing and ideally start before they move away.
Be aware. Remember that being away from home might be the biggest change in your child’s life
so far, and they are dealing with a lot of stressors too. This is not the time to
be overly strict or demanding.
Be supportive. Ask questions about their lives, and listen without judgment. Judging, lecturing,
and prying will only cause your child to shut down.
Be careful. Do not romanticize your experience in college, especially if it relates to alcohol
or drug use. Doing so might encourage them to use drugs and alcohol or to engage in
Be flexible. Expect your daughter or son to change. Developmentally, the college years are times
of changing viewpoints, eating, lifestyle, friendships, and dress. Allow your child
to ‘try on’ new ways of being.
Be culturally inclusive. Your child might be living in a community that is unfamiliar to you or different
from your family’s community. Universities are often diverse places, which include
people from a variety of races, cultures, religions, beliefs, and attitudes. Be aware
of your biases and attitudes toward certain groups.
Be curious. Know the warning signs of problems that might be occurring. Be willing to talk with
your child if you suspect that she or he is experiencing mental illness.
The Jed Foundation. The Jed Foundation works nationally to reduce the rate of suicide and the prevalence
of emotional distress among college and university students.
Be a parent. Even though they are away, you are still your child’s parent, and you have great
influence on her/him. Empower your child to make sound judgments when it comes to
sex, drugs, alcohol, safety, and health. Let her know what your values and beliefs
are on these topics. Ask him about his values. While you cannot control your child,
you can help guide them as they make decisions.
Be realistic. Some parents tell their children that “These are the best years of your life”. This
might be true for some. In reality, however, these are years of indecision, insecurities,
disappointments, and mistakes. They are also full of discovery, inspiration, good
times, and exciting people. Support your child as they experience the highs and lows
of the college experience.
Be open. While it might have been your dream to be a poet, your child has her/his own dreams
and hopes. Allow your child to be who she is. Allow time for her to explore her interests.
Be trusting. Your child is experiencing an important time of self-discovery, which presents many
challenges. Part of that is a bit of trial and error. Trust that your child will find
what’s best for her or him.
Self-Care Strategies for Parents
Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating well-balanced meals, and doing some
moderate exercise regularly. If you are having trouble with any of these, consider
seeing a counselor to help you get back on track.
Consider pursuing a new interest. What is something that you have always wanted to
Look into classes and/or groups that are being offered in your community. Some community
centers offer dance classes, yoga, photography, or other introductory lessons.
Yoga can be rewarding on many levels. There is a plethora of instructional books,
CDs, and DVDs that can help you get started with a yoga practice. Contrary to what
you might have heard, you do not have to be limber in order to practice yoga!
Have fun! Set aside time for yourself for pure fun. Sometimes play is solitary and
sometimes it’s with others. A mixture of both is best. Everyone has a different way
of playing. Consider what might bring more joy to your life.
Mindfulness and meditation are great ways to take care of ourselves. They benefit
the mind and body, and have been found to reduce stress and improve sleep.
For parents with a student in college:
Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College, by Patricia Pasick
Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College
Years, by Helen Johnson
Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Teeger
The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life, by Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt
You’re On Your Own, But I’m Here if You Need Me: Mentoring Your Child During the College
Years, by Marjorie Savage
When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide, by Carol Barkin
On mindfulness and meditation:
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
After the Ecstacy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield
Ordinary Magic: Everyday Life as Spiritual Path by John Welwood
Most of the following websites offer online courses or talks about cultivating mindfulness.
At Naropa, the intention is that both the parents and family from home, and the Snow
Lion “family” can work together to support students through their studies. Please
feel free to contact the Housing Office if you have any questions or concerns by contacting
email@example.com or 303-447-3846.