Teen's Transition from Home to College

Parent Q&A

  • Starting College

    (4 replies)

    Do you have a teenager starting college soon? What are you saying to them about alcohol, drugs, sex, the freshman five weight gain? What important conversations are you having before they leave?

    RE: Starting College ()

    My daughter was a freshman last year. I don't remember having a specific sit-down conversation about these things, but I'm sure I had been working these topics into general conversations since early in high school. Now I keep trying to work in the topic of not getting mugged and the laptop thefts that have become so common around the Cal campus. Maybe you know more about your teenager's views on these topics already than you think? Perhaps try to bring up a topic or two casually and see how it goes?

    RE: Starting College ()

    I never read books like this, but I highly recommend "Get Savvy:  Letters to a Teenage Girl about Sex and Love."  It talks about real life situations and has practical information about how to handle them (before, during and after).  My now-junior who thought she was very "savvy" picked it up out of boredom and learned a lot.  She insisted I read it, and recommends that every girl, boy and parent read this before college (or even sooner).  

    RE: Starting College ()

    Have a daughter starting this year and another one next year.   Ummm, these are all conversations we had years ago.  I would repeat the same conversation you probably had with her in middle school or when she started high school.  There is one thing I am stressing to both of my daughters.  DO NOT under any circumstances take or let anyone take  nearly naked or naked pictures and post on the Internet or on social media.  Remind here with face recognition software she can be identified years from now.  Also been telling my daughters to be very careful of what you post on social media.  Sex, drugs, alcohol are all things learned before and during high school for my girls.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Advice/Resources to help 18 year old navigate her first year away at college

July 2015

I have an 18 year old niece going off to college this fall from Bay Area to out of state college where she knows no one and will be away from her normal support system. Her mother is worried/anxious about her being able to handle and deal with the social pressures (drinking, partying) and academic pressures of college life. Recent media coverage about campus rapes is only adding to her anxiety. Any advice/suggestions on how to help? I'm a mother of a 15 year old, so haven't dealt with this yet. Concerned Auntie

My daughter started college last year, and when we dropped her off my husband found this book in the bookstore: ''The Freshman Survival Guide'' by Nora Bradbury-Haehl and Bill McGarvey. It covers all those situations you mentioned, plus more. My daughter never read it! But my husband did, and I read parts and it helped US to be able to talk to our daughter about what she was going through. I wish she had read it.... r2dean

See if there is some type of extended summer orientation program before school starts. That would let her get more comfortable with the area with lots of support from current students and let her meet people before she shows up.

Our son is doing a 10 day Wilderness Orientation through UCSC and it is a great chance to meet other incoming students who probably aren't in his dorm or major.

She could also take a self defense class this summer. That helps with self-confidence. -parent of twins

Most families breathe a sigh of relief when their child gets into a good college--and--spend less energy and resources on preparing them to do well (socially, emotionally) during the first months of college. So, kudos to you, Auntie, for reaching out.

Your family should continue talking about your family's values around underage alcohol use. These conversations need to be on-going; experts believe that the first six weeks of college is the riskiest time for poor alcohol choices. Remind your niece that many students do not drink in college and have plenty of fun in other ways. Unhooking alcohol use and sexual behavior is critical. Thankfully, campuses are working harder now on creating ''cultures of consent.''

College is the perfect time to practice being open to different kinds of friendships. Not everyone is soulmate material. But many can be an exercise/study buddy for a semester/quarter before they transition to social media status. A smile and a hello still go a long way.

My coaching business is all about helping students transition to college with ease. We do a lot of ''practicing'' of skills (how to ask someone out to coffee, how to obtain sexual consent, how to safely get out of an out-of-control party, etc). Best wishes, Karen

I'm definitely feeling your concerns. As the mother of two shy girls for whom the dorm scene was indeed an adjustment and frankly a bit of a shock to me, I wish that I would have consulted with an expert who could have helped them transition with more ease. My daughters are both introverts and this has required extra effort all through the years, high school and college probably being the hardest. I have a friend who has worked at Cal for years counseling the students there about issues ranging from sex, drugs, academic demands, socializing and even hunger. We have lunch often and the stories! Yikes! I am just so glad that they've had her to talk to. She is so encouraging and very strategy oriented. There really isn't anything you can't talk to her about. Best of luck! Marcy

If you are concerned about alcohol and sex, talk to her about the pros and cons of alcohol and sex. If you just paint an ugly picture of these things, teens will never listen. So definitely talk about the good parts, too.

Acquaintance rape is a real problem. I think if the sex is kept separate from the alcohol, date rape is less likely. I also think if students put off sex until they have established a relationship, date rape is less likely. Seems like date rape is more likely in an atmosphere of alcohol and hookups.

College students are going to be drinking and f**king. No way around it. Try providing some healthy guidelines. For instance, one drink at a party is probably ok. Just keep refilling the cup with water. No one really keeps track of how much you are drinking unless they want to take advantage of you.

Open the conversation and keep it going. Someone going away to college needs a confidante. An aunt could be the perfect person! Anon

Teen pulling away before college

Feb 2015

Of course, everyone says it's normal and expected. Our teen daughter (who had been pretty mild mannered until the last semester of her senior year) became somewhat cold and distant, standoffish, aloof, and seemingly disinterested in her family, and in particular, me, her mom. She went from having what I would consider a fairly normal and balanced relationship with me to barely being able to be in the same room with me.

Now she is in college in Oregon, and things are going well. Everything I read says teens have to do this in order to move away. But, I am having trouble recovering. I know this is ridiculous! She seems to have moved on from it, but I am left feeling wounded, confused, and blind sided.

How do I get past feeling so hurt by her behavior? Some of her actions and things she said feel like such a betrayal. It felt like having all the years of trying so hard to be a good mom thrown in my face. Ugh. How do I put it all behind me?

I don't remember going through this as a teen

I am so sorry you had to go through that pain. I know, because I went through it as well. Though for me it lasted from about mid-7th grade until the end of high school. It is totally normal for girls to pull away, and friends told me that often the closer a girl is to her mother (the mothers usually bear the brunt of this) the harder she has to work to pull away. Now that she's in college, it's a totally different story. She calls, she texts, she sends me articles to read and wants to discuss them. I'm wondering if it was harder for you because your daughter started this painful process a little later. She entered high school still her old sweet self and her transition was more surprising.

I would definitely find a way for you to process your feelings, get some understanding of what happened and why you felt so blindsided. Write about it, get some counseling, etc. I would caution against confronting your daughter until you sorted it out for yourself. She most likely didn't mean to hurt you. And now that she's moved on it's just a blip in her past. Think about the teenage brain. This doesn't mean you won't ultimately talk about it. My daughter has actually apologized for being so awful. But if you speak up now you might mar the good relationship you seem to be (re) building. Just my 2 cents

Whether you are a stay at home parent, work full or part time outside your home, there is no way to fully prepare yourself for the void once the good kids you raised move away from home the 1st time. It's just a shock to the system. I tried planning ahead & bracing for the Empty Nest, and it lasted about a minute before everyone was back living at home for various reasons. I'm still in a different category to my grown children. I heard the word ''consultant'' used as the new role we play, I've also heard we become happier people once the kids grow away. A coach told me my son would start to be pleasant again in his 30's (oh boy!) and I've also heard that relationships with daughters get so much better, sooner, too. A good new activity (dog walking, swimming, home improvement, Paris) will be a benefit to yourself & your child. They are healthy & capable because of how you raised them. They don't see things from our perspective until they become parents themselves. Sounds like you are a great parent to me. Talking to friends helped me tremendously. New Nest

Oh my goodness -- for a second I thought perhaps I'd posted this in my sleep or something! I too have a daughter (not, admittedly, ever what you'd call mild mannered) who pulled away before going off to college -- in Oregon, as it happens. Lots of talk about my house not being her home anymore, couldn't she put what few things she left behind into storage, she didn't expect to ''visit'' for long when she was back in the Bay Area on breaks -- she'd likely be staying elsewhere.

It hurt. I don't know if it made it better or worse that we've always had a somewhat contentious relationship. On the one hand, I suppose I was better prepared for her pulling away because she's been doing it in one form or another for a long time. On the other hand, it felt less like something coming out of where she is in her life and more like a personal rejection of me, in particular, as a mother.

All of that said, I'm okay now. She talks to me on the phone once a week. She ends conversations with ''I love you.'' She came home for a good chunk of her winter break, and we had some family time. She is still very insistent on my recognizing that our relationship has to be different now -- and a lot of the time, she is absolutely right, it's just taking time for me to get used to it. I set aside the high emotion of the time right around when she was leaving, and focus on the interactions we have *now* -- appreciating what I think is right about our relationship, newly a relationship between parent and (young) adult child.

Good luck to you -- the whole transition of having a kid leave for college has been much rougher than I expected, and I still have another one at home! Been there

Therapy. For you. A good therapist will help you move on - which you need to do, or you will poison your future relationship with your daughter. Not Clingy

''Everything I read says teens have to do this in order to move away. But, I am having trouble recovering. I know this is ridiculous!''

''Ridiculous''? Of course not! You've invested years of love and work and thought in this child and she acted like an ungrateful brat instead of the sweet girl you took such good care of. (She also started getting nasty a little late, which might have added to the shock.) But the part about teenagers having to do this is probably true. They still love us, need us, and want our approval, but they're not yet mature enough to separate any way but harshly.

I would say, in no particular order, to look for a support group or get some therapy. (Elayne Savage in Berkeley is good at the latter.) Or both. Cry when you need to, and yell when you need to as well. Talk to friends who have been through this. The most important thing is to know that the separation/rebellion stuff is normal and that you are a good mother. And trust me on this: your daughter still loves you and, sooner rather than later, I'll bet that she apologizes as well.

P.S. I don't remember my rebellion being this intense, either, but we were both probably meaner than we realized at the time. cosmicat9

I shared with a group that before my daughter left for college while I was trying to detach with love I felt like she was detaching with a hack-saw. It was painful and (metaphorically) bloody. It is true that these children get us ready to let them go. My daughter is also in her first year away and the last year at home was gut-wrenching. And after giving myself the room to breathe and recover and feel a little whole again I worked on engaging with her in ways that were easy (texting) and I put myself in the position of acting ''as-if;'' how do I want to show-up in an adult relationship with her, who am I as a woman coming to this with another woman, etc. I didn't and won't stop being her mom, but I have let go of the little girl I cared for and gone into this new stage with curiosity to meet the woman she is becoming. And we she shows up as a little girl I call her out on it and say I'm not doing this anymore... it's not perfect, but it is getting better and by letting go of her a as a child I can also let go of the hurt from that experience. get to know who she is becoming - it helps

I think you need to work on being grateful. Your daughter is in college, doing well. Yay!!! Everybody has ups and downs with their kids. And you don't know what what going on with her in her senior year. Maybe her boyfriend was pressuring her for sex. Maybe a friend was threatening suicide. Maybe she was dealing with a lot of drinking at parties. Who knows what it was. She got though it without falling apart. Be thankful. Tell her you love her. Do every compassionate, loving, thoughtful thing you can think of for her. The more you are nice to her, the more she can trust you, the more you can all move on from those hard times. Create lovely times now, so that the difficult times can fade. Anon

How did you help your child make the transition to college?

Aug 2014

I'm interested in knowing how other parents have switched into a more consultative/advisory mode with their teens once they've gone off to college. My teen is a good kid and high-achieving in spite of some learning differences. I've been a pretty hands-on parent, maybe even more than I would have naturally been because of the child's needs. However, now that my teen is off to college I'll need to step way back. Ideally, I'd like my teen to link up with the student services offices for tutoring/organizational help if needed. How did you help your child make the transition to a competitive college? The college is on the East Coast, so distance will also be a factor. I'm interested in the responses of parents of students with and without learning differences. anon

I think these roles change naturally; it's not something you need to gear up for, really. My daughter (average student who probably has an undiagnosed mild learning disability) graduated from UCSC two years ago.

What I found I did was that I offered suggestions when she asked for them, but tried not to tell her what to do (too much, anyway!). I was careful not to say things that would suggest I didn't think she was in charge of her own life. I tried not to criticize when she didn't do things the way I did them as an undergrad--especially hard for me because I was an anxious go-getter and she was groovy and laid back.

I praised the things she did well (''Wow, I appreciate that you ended that relationship when it wasn't going anywhere; good choice!'') and tried to ignore what wasn't working. I figured that when she made those mistakes with the financial aid office, she was well aware of the consequences and didn't need me to rub it in. I sent her useful tips occasionally by email or gave her suggestions for solving issues but never insisted she do anything. I didn't bail her out of the financial aid office mess too quickly; I had some additional money in her Scholarshare account but didn't mention it until she had solved her ongoing problem.

Most important, I think, is being there when they need you to listen. This is true at any age, but really starts when they're in their teens. Nonjudgmental listening will get you really far. Talking to them like they're adults helps, too.

Overall, my goal was to keep the lines of communication open and make it clear to my daughter that she could trust me. She could confess her big mistakes and I would say I loved her and that she was going to survive. I remember her crying when I told her things would be okay--she really needed to hear that. You have a lot of power as a parent, so wield it gently, kindly, wisely. okay, I also made a lot of mistakes too!

You are so wise to recognize the reality of your changing role, but also the importance of getting it right. Your knowledge of your child is the most important factor, and I'm struck by how unique each situation is.

But maybe our experience can be a cautionary tale... Our son--very bright and creative, but with attention, learning, and social skills issues went off to a small academically demanding liberal arts college with excellent teacher involvement, contact with the learning center, and an individual but inexperienced coach for weekly check-ins. We had bi-weekly family telecons. He fooled us all--and didn't know how/when to get help. Net result--medical leave for severe depression first semester, which has taken him over a year to build back up from--plus an enormous missed opportunity for working through a not untypical freshman difficult transition.

Not sure what the answer is--I wish we had required that he skype with his local therapist--which we had set up, but he insisted he didn't need.

Something else--BE SURE your child signs a HIPAA medical privacy release so the school can share with you any critical medical information. Hopefully never needed--but I have heard horror stories of parents unaware of severe--even suicidal--depression. one day at a time...

You are smart to think about this ahead of time. My LD son doesn't sound as high functioning as yours and also was in some denial about his need for help, so I made an appointment for him to see the learning specialist at his college during orientation week and I accompanied him on that appointment. They set up a regular schedule to check in and that has worked well. Your son might be able to do that on his own, but I wasn't confident that mine would follow through with initiating it. He's been fine since then, though.

I also set a regular time to talk on the phone once a week. They get busy at school and it's easy for time to fly by. See what his schedule is like and find a time when he's likely to be available for your weekly call.

I was so worried when my son went off to college because I had also been very involved in managing his LD life. I am happy to report that he has managed very well and has gotten a lot out of college. I hope you have the same experience. Anon 

Ideas for simple things to do to "savor" her last summer at home?

June 2014

Our daughter goes away to college this fall, and we are looking for ideas of small day-to-day things to do to savor her 'last' summer at home (siblings too). I know this may not truly be her last, but it feels like to all of us - despite being very excited for her, we're feeling already the loss of not having her here with us, and aware of how short this time feels. We're not looking for elaborate or expensive ideas, just if there are simple things you've done over these weeks to enjoy the time together with your child. Sometimes I have look back on different times of my life and feel regret for not having realized the preciousness of those moments (and done what? I don't know) - I feel I want to savor this time we have with her. We are a close family and enjoy being with each other. missing her already

One lovely thing you can do is to consciously look for the little things that she does that you sincerely appreciate & let her know. It could be her sense of style, the way she laughs, how her questions make you think deeply, how she hums when she eats good food, a specific skill... you get the idea. (Just don't do it a zillion times a day.) It will fill her with warmth & extra confidence to take with her to college. It will let you fill your heart. Renee

We went through this last summer. We made a mini-bucket list of Bay Area-specific things my son wanted to do or we wanted to do as a family before he left the area. This included stuff like getting good dim sum, hanging out in the Haight and the Mission district, etc. If there are areas of the Bay Area you haven't explored (e.g., hiking Mt. Tam or going to Baker Beach), try to hit those spots. Also, if you don't have a vacation planned, I'd recommend at least a short getaway. It might difficult to capture your daughter's attention for long, with college planning and socializing with friends who are also going away, so some dedicated family time away from it all is great. You could Airbnb a place in Santa Cruz or something easy.

Staying connected to kid during freshman year

Sept 2012

I'd love to hear any thoughts from other parents who are on a similar journey of separation from your kid as he/she embarks on college life. I'd like to learn how to stay connected to my daughter during this transition (not technically, as in Skype and email and texts) but rather spiritually. I honor her new-found status as a young adult living away from home, and would like to find ways to stay connected to her that are respectful, non-intrusive, and mutually fulfilling. A lot to ask, I know. She and I have been very close all these years, and have spent a lot of time together. So of course I miss her; now suddenly she is living far away, in another time zone, doing well, inventing a new life for herself, which is as it should be. All good. Still, at the end of the day, I have a need to remain connected to her, even in this new normal. I'm not looking for advice on new activities to fill my time, like a yoga class or knitting. I'm looking for practical advice as it relates to my relationship with my daughter. Any words of wisdom would be most welcome. How did we get here so fast?

It does go by quickly.. what a ride it's been.. Big changes for them, and for us, too. Our son's 20 - most of our friends have kids +/- a few yrs. Besides texting.. how about you go visit - not often, perhaps once a semester, or year.. Suggest going out to dinner, alone or with friends.. depending on where she is, do something she'd enjoy and perhaps wouldn't do in her day to day routine. Ask her what she'd like.. First visit(s) are sometimes awkward, but it gets better, and good. It's the beginning of us seeing them as adults, and them seeing us as more than parents, but fellow travelers on this crazy and wonderful planet. Plan on being independent when there, that seems to be key, too. Expectations can get in the way. Sounds like you have a deep and lovely connection - that won't ever go away. You already respect and appreciate her independence - she'll want to to stay connected to her wonderful mom. Lisa

Here is something to try. Read the books she is reading. Watch the movies she is watching. Maybe even check out her favorite websites. Read the campus newspaper and the newspaper of the town where she is living. Visit her. Anon

Preparing for Daughter's College Departure

Jan 2012

I'm wondering if anyone has any specific advice on an aspect of having your first kid go off to college and the separation that entails: for the 18 years my kid has been on the planet, I've known her whereabouts at all times, and that she's been safe. My daughter is a highly responsible, trust-worthy individual; she has traveled widely, many times on her own; she is a new driver but has followed through on letting me know that she's arrived; she's basically a very grounded young woman who works hard and is finding her way in the world, which makes me very confident in her abilities. I am not a neurotic mom, just an involved caring mom who is used to a certain dynamic that is about to change big-time. Here are the questions: how do other parents make the transition to having a kid far from home? How do you know how they are? How often are you in touch? How do you stay connected without interfering with their newfound and developmentally-appropriate separation from you? How do you know, especially if its your daughter leaving home, that she is safe? Do you have agreed times that you check in with one another, and if so, how? We havent's heard back yet from schools so I don't know which campus she's heading to, but they are all good schools, mostly in big urban centers on the East Coast. As she didn't apply to any school in California, I know she'll be heading far from home. She is looking forward to college and ready to go on to her next chapter. I am respectful of her maturity and earned place in the new world of college, I just need to figure out how to make the ''new normal'' work for both of us. Another big leap just ahead

Oh my. This question may set the all-time record for responses. Yes, this is hard. And, I think you're asking all the right questions of yourself. Our daughter is 3,000+ miles away. For us, what has worked is emails & texts & the occasional phone call/Skype chat. She's busy; she has her own life; we don't want to impede that -- but, we need and get reassurance that she's okay. I think that's what you need to get agreement on ahead of time. ''I need to hear from you'' once a week? every few days? Talk about it. At first, she may be homesick and you'll get a lot. Then maybe not so much. What works for me is a calculated email now and then. How was XXX practice? Has [roommate] improved? How are you doing on money? [always a winner] In a pinch, ''Hey! Haven't heard from you in a while. Everything okay?'' It's hard not to know what your kid is up to, but it's do-able. And, from my experience, the more we let go, the more she's looked forward to coming home. still chew my fingernails dad

My kids are now officially young adults and on their own but I remember my first going off to college as if it were yesterday! I remember telling my therapist that I wasn't sure I wanted to drop him off (at UC Santa Cruz) because I might cry. Her great response: And you don't think there will be other mothers there crying?

My second went to UC Davis and I loved the ''Parent to Parent'' column in the parent newsletter. You can find all of these on-line by googling: aggie family pack parent to parent Some of them are dated (re: instant messaging) but most is solid, timeless advice.

My real advice to you is in response to your closing line: I just need to figure out how to make the ''new normal'' work for both of us.

I don't think you do have to figure out how to make it work for both of you. You need to figure out how to make it work for you (admittedly huge)---but your daughter needs to figure out to make it work for her. Letting go is really hard. After a while, you'll find that it's such a blessing to have them away---you don't worry as much about their safety when you don't know what they're up to!

Good luck. You'll find that all of these things sort themselves out over the first six months of your child going off to school. It won't take long before you'll be the ''expert'' and can advise next year's group of parents. Been there

I have a daughter who is a freshman in college. She too lives out of state. Here are some suggestions. One, start to wean yourself from having to know where your daughter is now. It will be good for your soon to launch daughter too to have more freedom for the next 6 months while she is still at home. If she makes mistakes, you are close to intervene for the next few months.

My daughter last year did not have a curfew. I asked her to call by 11 pm to let me know her plan for the night, so I could sleep. And, she did not call me to check in when she went out. Did I worry? Yes. But that worry was my issue, not hers. I wanted my daughter to experience more freedom and less ''mom'' check in before she left home. We both grew from the above experience. It helped me make the transition to her leaving home. It gave her an expanded sense of responsibility and room to handle herself.

I have asked her to call me once a week, every Sunday. As for knowing that my daughter is safe when she lives far from home. You can't. Your daughter is about to launch. This is what the 18 years of raising her has been about. When your daughter lives on the East Coast, she will have to handle herself. You will have to learn to let her do that. What I have found out is that my daughter will send text messages in-between calls. If I hover, she disappears. Remember, it is the developmental agenda for our kids to separate. Do I miss my daughter? Oh yes, but I am immensely proud of her. She is thriving, making friends, learning to do on her own, and making good grades. She loves college and she told me, ''I love my independence''. Make sure not to take the latter away from your daughter next year because of your needs. And, I send a hug. Peggy

I understand how you feel, that is where I was last year. I think such question really has 2 parts: 1- how to best prepare my daughter for college, and 2- how to prepare myself for her departure.

To answer Q1, let me share my experience. About campus safety- when I took her to the dorm, I rented a car and tried to take a look at the neighborhoods around the campus & told her about it. (she did not have time to go with me:) I asked the school president during the orientation about alcohol & drugs, campus rape, the neighborhood, and other safety concerns they might have for students. The response was realistic. About sex: I gave her a lecture about sex: ''You owe it to yourself to enjoy sex! Don't do it under influence or drunk, don't be somebody else's trophy, don't let others use you as a toy, sex is beautiful, learn to enjoy and appreciate it, don't rush into it and make sure you are ready to enjoy it.'' I made her an appt with her doctor just to talk about sex and contraception and morning after, etc. I think that was necessary and she appreciated it. Also I bought her a big box of condoms.

About Q2: I text my daughter once a day, ''Hi'' and she texts back ''Hey'' and we talk on the phone or Skype on weekends. One good thing is that when I took her to the dorm, I met some of her roommates who are now good friends with her. Occasionally when I cannot reach my daughter and get worried, I call or text them and they don't mind helping me:) If you don't have younger ones at home, you might get an empty next feeling for a couple of months, then you'll get used to it as soon as you realize your daughter is getting used to her new life. BTW - My daughter started missing home after a couple of months.

Finally, I came across this by accident. Although I only read a few pages of it, I found it very interesting: http://smr.yale.edu/node/12/attachment Enjoy reading.

Dear Mom of a Departing to College Daughter- My daughter is attending her first year at a college in New York. As a single parent who is close to my only kid this was quite a big change to face for both of us. We did the college visit, sat in on the orientations, met the room mate,set up the dorm space ( and thanks to the BPN parent who suggested mailing items to the college rather than shopping when you get there, good advice for us.) We agreed upon touching base set times of the day, which cuts down on my anxiety and her homesickness.(Texting works for us too.)I met and got the numbers of the dorm staff.We skype once a week with her dad. Maybe that seems I am being an overbearing parent but it gives me some peace of mind.A book titled ''Letting Go-A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years'' was helpful.

It is an exciting time, scary and depressing in parts, thrilling to watch your daughter set out in new territory without you. It is takes some getting used to but it reads as if you are anticipating what to do beforehand which is definitely the way to go .Good luck to you both. Mom who has been there

I found that in order to communicate with my college kids, I have to use whatever form of communication they like best. Texting is very popular now, so that is probably a good choice, especially if you can figure out their schedule so that you text when they have time to respond. Some kids may like email better. Some kids may like chatting through facebook. You have to figure out their preference, and use that. And, if some new means of communication pops up, learn about it quickly and be ready to use that.

In addition, use all means of communication a little bit if you can. Skyping is really great, but they may not want to do that very often. Make sure you email and call once a week or so, even if you don't get much of a response. Send cards and letters and little gifts. And go to see them when you can, maybe once or twice a semester. You have to be flexible to keep the communication going. Sanon

My first born is in her first year of college back east. Your description of yourself & your daughter sound just like us! I completely understand your concerns, despite the communication & understandings you have now & how responsible your teen has been. Yes, it is a huge change to be on your own & far away from home. I found, firstly, that the months leading up to her departure were the hardest. In retrospect, it was the anticipation along with a dose of sibling tensions (have a daughter who is 3 years younger) & the seemingly endless list of tasks & decisions. Once she was gone, and we all started settling into the new routine, it was much better. Of course it made a huge difference that she was happy & didn't report any big challenges! We were similarly accustomed to constant checkins so I would know where she was & that she was safe. I have a lot of trust in her judgement & I'm pretty sure she will let me know if she needs help. We text a lot, talk & skype regularly. I know some families have regular skype dates with their college students. She didn't feel like she could work that into her schedule so we'll just checkin & see about a call or skype later in the day, over the weekend, etc. Between texting, calling, FB, email, skype, etc, it feels a lot easier to stay connected in small & larger bytes. Hang in there & all the best to you & your daughter!! first time college mama

My first born is in her first year of college back east. Your description of yourself & your daughter sound just like us! I completely understand your concerns, despite the communication & understandings you have now & how responsible your teen has been. Yes, it is a huge change to be on your own & far away from home. I found, firstly, that the months leading up to her departure were the hardest. In retrospect, it was the anticipation along with a dose of sibling tensions (have a daughter who is 3 years younger) & the seemingly endless list of tasks & decisions. Once she was gone, and we all started settling into the new routine, it was much better. Of course it made a huge difference that she was happy & didn't report any big challenges! We were similarly accustomed to constant checkins so I would know where she was & that she was safe. I have a lot of trust in her judgement & I'm pretty sure she will let me know if she needs help. We text a lot, talk & skype regularly. I know some families have regular skype dates with their college students. She didn't feel like she could work that into her schedule so we'll just checkin & see about a call or skype later in the day, over the weekend, etc. Between texting, calling, FB, email, skype, etc, it feels a lot easier to stay connected in small & larger bytes. Hang in there & all the best to you & your daughter!! first time college mama