If your child graduated from high school last fall and they are off at college or starting their career and in an apartment, chances are about now is when that “empty nest” feeling really sets in for you. I know; I’ve been there. It knocks the wind out of you’re a little bit doesn’t it?
As a parent, you want to give your children the freedom to explore and set out on their own—but they are, of course, still your children. And don’t forget, they are going through a huge transition themselves. They may be homesick, overwhelmed and need some general direction as well.
Items to “Check In” with on Your Independent Teen:
- Security. Ask your teen to program security, police and 911 in his or her phone. Remind teens about the importance of locking doors, never going out alone, and trusting their gut. Make sure you have covered what to do in an emergency—like where the nearest hospital is located.
- Checkups. Remind your teen to get vaccinated for flu and other disease as needed—including meningitis and tetanus. Try to slowly wean them from relying on you to make all their doctor appointments when they are home. Make sure they have medical and prescription insurance cards, as well as names and numbers of their pediatrician and other doctors for medical records.
- Stress. Invite your teen home to get some sleep—which is critical to functioning properly and making good decisions. Encourage exercise and eating balanced meals (send healthy snacks—not junk). Find a way to stay connected regularly—be it through email, phone or visits.
- Choices. From alcohol to dating…and even to wearing sunscreen or not, these are decisions that rest solely on your teens’ discretion now. Send them articles about health studies (such as this one about tanning beds), ask them about their friends and try to relate and guide without passing judgment.
Don’t worry…(OK, worry a little bit so that you pay attention to signs that your teen is in trouble). You made it through—you came out on the other side as a stronger, smarter, self-assured person. You’ve spent 18 years helping guide your child to be the person they are today. You raised the type of young adult who sees a challenge of facing the world…and rises up to meet it. Be well pleased (and partially protective).