My daughter left for college, which was an incredible milestone. She was anxious to go but soon settled into her new routine. But I started to become so anxious every time she went out with friends. Here’s how I managed to control it.
It’s normal to be concerned about your children. When they move to college you don't stop being a parent. Let me explain why I was and how I overcame it.
1. New surroundings and friends
2. Anxious thoughts
3. Talk to other parents
4. Talk to your teen
5. Trust in your teen
I never really considered myself a helicopter mom, but when my daughter moved to college I became anxious about everything she was doing. I knew I wasn’t being rational but couldn’t stop myself. Here’s how I learned to calm my thoughts.
New surroundings and friends
My daughter moved to college last year. She was very apprehensive about the move. It was a major milestone in our whole family. She had gone to quite a small high school and we lived in a very rural area. Now, she was moving to the city. I think initially this was all I was thinking about. Was she going to settle in or was she going to bolt and throw in the towel?
Of course she settled in. After a week or so she was absolutely loving college life. She was living with 9 other girls, some she had made friends with, some she had not. But that’s ok, that’s life. No one gets on with everyone.
At first it was just small worries. Is she up on time for class? Has she eaten enough to concentrate in class? But then she would text me and say “We’re all going to such and such for something to eat”. Which is great, and everything I wanted for her when she went off to college.
But I would start over thinking.
How is she getting home? or
That’s not a great end of town to be in...
That’s how girls go missing...
Oh my goodness, it was ridiculous. I kept telling myself, she’s sensible, that I was young once and didn’t have any contact with my parents as we didn’t have cell phones. But then that would spiral me into thinking about all the dumb things I did when I was in college.
I began to actually feel physically sick whenever she text to say she was going out.
I put my Nancy Drew skills into action as to how I could locate her. I got her brother to check Snap Maps. She was in ghost mode. So I did the unthinkable. I messaged one of her friends on Facebook. But I was frantic. She is and always has been a really good kid. So why was I so nervous about her being out with her friends?
She called me shortly after. Her phone was flat. She was back at dorms and her phone was on charge. She was pretty mad at me. But I was worried about her.
I think in reality I was so busy getting her ready to leave for college and making sure that all went to plan, I never gave a second thought as to how I was going to cope with not being in control anymore.
Up until she left for college, I knew where she was all the time. But now I only know where she is if she decides to tell me. And by the stunt I just pulled, I was lucky she was talking to me at all.
And that’s the way it should be right? It means I have raised an independent adult, that can go out and have a good time and know that she still has to get up for college / class in the morning.
But it didn’t take away from the fact that I went into full on meltdown every time she left the dorm.
Talking to other parents
So I wondered was I the only one feeling this way. My friends son had also gone away to college. We were of siimilar minds in parenting. So I spoke to her about how she was coping. She was also anxious but she felt that her greatest anxiety had come the year before when her son had bought his first car.
Talk to your Teen
So as I say, my daughter was more than unimpressed that I had contacted her friends (whom I had never met, I might add) and she was right, (to a certain extent).
She told me how mortified she was at the fact but also agreed that it was understandable that I was worried.
I explained to her that I was finding it very difficult with her away at college. It’s really hard not being fully involved in everything she’s doing. To go from knowing where she is all the time to zero is hard for me to take that on board.
But I am trying. I still get very anxious when she says she’s going soomewere new. It may not even be out socialising. It could be just studying in a Bucks. Is it near dorms? Is she safe? Is someone going to walk her home?
Trust in your Teen
It’s is difficult for me to look at my daughter and admit that she is an adult. Yes, of course we are paying for her to be educated and living on campus but I also want her to be “Adulting”.
Going to college is not just about getting a degree. It’s about learning how to live. Learning how to mix with people from all walks of life and ultimately becoming the best adult they can be.
And they are not going to do that if they have parents who don’t trust them.
My daughter needs to know that I trust her. And I do trust her. I worry about the people she may encounter when she’s out. I worry that a flippant remark could lead to something more serious.
But at the end of the day, both she and I have made it through her first year of college. I never imagined it would be so stressful.
She’s so confident and has become an amazing adult. I have to keep my concerns in check.
It’s something I need to manage and not to increase her anxiety through mine.
My biggest thoughts are always about my children.
They know they can always discuss anything with us and if they have any doubts or worries they can openly discuss them with us.
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