Our first act as the parents of a college student was to attend orientation with our son. Here are a few things that I took away from our 2-day adventure at the University of Central Florida.
1. They separated the parents and the students for a reason. My son needed to receive all the information for himself. If he had questions, he needed to know where to go to find the answers. He’s a smart guy; he can figure things out.
2. Our role is changing from parenting to coaching. I’m fairly certain this is going to be the hardest part for me. How do you take something you’ve done for 18 years, and just stop doing it? Granted, I’ve tried to back off a lot this last year, but the hard, cold fact is, I like to be in control. Letting him navigate his own way is essential. We’re always here if he wants to ask us anything, but I need to let him come to me. There are benefits to him living at home, of course, but the downside is that he’ll still be around for me to know what’s going on. I will have to learn extraordinary self control to not fall into my old habits.
3. We still have a lot to learn, both about ourselves and about our son. How will I react if he doesn’t receive the waiver he needs from the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board that will allow him to continue his ROTC and hopefully Air Force officer career? What will I do if he fails an exam or even, heaven forbid, a class? How do I keep the lines of communication without being smothering? What subjects are off limits for me to approach?
Overall, I’m more excited for this next year than anything. I’m excited for the experiences my son will have, for the people he will meet, for the connections he will make. I’m glad he’s going to be close by so that I don’t have to miss him. It’s a new and exciting stage that I’m sure won’t be without its challenges, but I know will be significant in his life.
Stay tuned to That Senior Year for more of what I glean from this freshman year.
What advice do you have for us as new college parents? I’d love to hear from you.