How to handle it when she’s ready to leave the nest.
Your grade twelve daughter has just announced that she’s been accepted at a few universities and her choice is McGill in Montreal.
“But,” you stutter, “weren’t you accepted at UBC?” She allows as how that’s the case but she wants to go to McGill. She gives you the lowdown on all the positive aspects about McGill including the research being done in her field of interest.
But, let’s face it. She also wants to leave home. She is ready to stretch her wings and leave the nest.
The real question is, are you?
This could be the case for any post-secondary plans including getting a job and finding a place to rent.
“I see now that learning to be a mother was child’s play compared to learning to be a not-mother. In my hierarchy of needs, making sure she’s okay comes right after breathing. Suddenly, now I am required (by her developmental calendar, not mine) to stop paying that kind of attention to her.
“Having children is hard, but letting them go is much harder, an emotional amputation. My new job, which I did not choose, is to open my eyes to her wings and watch her fly, to set her free and trust that she will be fine, that she will make the life she needs. Having never been on her own, she requires life skills that aren’t in her kit bag yet. There’s only one way to get them – the hard way, without me there to smooth the bumps. I’m scared for her.” Joanne Kates, who is the director of Camp Arowhon in Algonquin Park, wrote this as part of an article about a trip she took with her 18-year-old daughter to Europe.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This is what it’s all about. We become parents and the job takes over our life. We worry, we laugh, we comfort, we discipline and teach; and then we let them go. Our baby is now ready to leave the nest and we have to stay behind and wave good-bye.
Rather than be upset that she has chosen a school across the country, you should be thrilled. You have raised her to be an independent young lady who is now ready to explore the world. How exciting. Congratulations.
So, now what?
It’s not as simple as just registering for classes and booking a flight to Montreal. There are a number of skills she might be missing. In my book, But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home,I listed the skills your child will need to learn between now and when she kisses you good-bye at the airport.
If she hasn’t been involved in housework, now is the time. She will need to know how to keep her home as neat as she and her roommates wish.
Besides the basics there are other skills she needs.
She will be handling her own money so she will need to know how to set up a bank account. She likely knows about using an ATM but what about budgeting and paying the bills? She should also get busy applying for student loans and checking out bursary and scholarship possibilities.
If she isn’t used to using transit, this is the time to start. She needs to learn how to understand transit maps and schedules. If she’ll have a car she needs to be comfortable pumping gas, handling routine car maintenance (e.g. oil change, topping up fluids – DIY or scheduling mechanic visits and maintaining adequate insurance/licensing.
She’ll need to know how to cook, plan menus and handle grocery shopping within a budget.
She’ll have to know how to handle her own health and find a doctor or the health services in the school.
And finally, she needs to think about how to live with roommates, how to share the costs, how to manage a lease agreement, a wee bit about money disputes with roommates, how to set limits and rules around guests, parties, music and general noise.
It’s a bit overwhelming but she’ll be fine. You have raised her to be a capable young woman. And you are always on the other end of the phone, email or text.
But, and this is important, don’t plan to communicate daily. Your child needs to figure out how to live on her own. And you need to figure out how to let go, trust that she’s fine and look forward to her first visit home.
Typically, she’ll bring home lots of laundry.
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
Next time you’re sitting in the doctor’s office, lying on the couch fighting a cold or on transit and wish you had something to read, think about Parenting Today’s digital parenting books.
You can choose from Who’s in Charge Anyway? which talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults. But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Hometalks about raising children to become capable young men and women. Vive la Différencefocuses on specific parenting issues.
The first two are also available in print. Just log onto the store on the site and they are yours for the reading.