Watching one of your children go off to college can bring a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, you are extremely proud and excited that you have successfully got your child through the gauntlet of high school. The PTA meetings, driving them to sporting events, music lessons, and other activities will soon be over. You will have new found free time. And on the other hand, you will have new found free time and someone who depended on you for their entire existence will now hardly acknowledge your existence. It can be a very sad transition for many parents. Letting go of a child into adulthood is very difficult.
The good news is, many children still want to have some relationship with their parent. Social media and texting allow parents and children to be in constant contact. But as a parent you do have to set some boundaries and allow them to opportunity to fail as they make decisions. Whether it is who they choose to associate with, to how they make financial decisions.
Many kids are given credit cards to support themselves with while away at college. Make sure you set hard spending limits. Don’t give in if they run out of money by the middle of the month, make them figure out how to survive the balance of the month. Don’t cave and send more money. Believe me, they won’t starve. Two weeks of ramen noodles can be a wonderful teacher of economy.
And one of the number one lessons I can pass along is “Selective Ignorance”. By that, I mean, become stupid on some things. When they run out of money say “Gee, what are you going to do?” and then shut up. If their default it, “I figured you would send me more money!” your reply is “I would love to but I can’t. We don’t have it in our budget. What do you think YOU can do?” Let them figure out a way out of the problem. You will be surprised at how many may come to the realization they can WORK!
My daughter goes to an art college and I am not sure she has quite grasped how expensive it is. Student loans to a young mind are not exactly tangible, and most kids overestimate how much they will make when they get done with school. This year, I am making her directly pay $1,000 a semester. And I am making her write out an actual check instead of wiring the money to the college. I want her to “feel” what it is like to spell out the word ONE THOUSAND, and to know that it took her 100 hours of working to get that small amount towards her schooling. I hope it will motivate her to do her best in college while making her appreciate how much effort goes into making a dollar.
So, let your little birdies fly from the nest and enjoy your new found freedom!