Your kid goes off to college, and you’re both hoping that it will be some of the best few years of their life so far. But then you get the dreaded call or text saying that they’re terribly homesick. What do you do? Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all solution to this situation because each child is so different. Here are five things to consider that should be helpful.
1. Don’t Panic, Just Listen
A little homesickness is completely normal, especially the first year of college. It may be that your child is struggling to adjust, but it’s temporary feelings until they acclimate to the new environment. It may be that your emerging adult is having a bad day or week and just needs someone to listen and vent to. Don’t feel like you have to jump into problem-solving mode right away.
2. Don’t Swoop in and Rescue Them
It’s painful to hear that your child is in pain, but resist the temptation to swoop in and rescue them. Visiting them too often or having them come home frequently can backfire big time. If your child gets used to having you around or knows they can escape to home whenever they want, they might not make real efforts to get comfortable on campus and make new friends.
3. Encourage Them to Get Involved on Campus
One of the major causes of homesickness is feeling disconnected from your new environment. A good remedy is to get involved on campus and begin making connections with people and organizations. The more integrated into campus life your child becomes, the less likely they are to feel homesick. If your college kid feels overwhelmed with where to begin, help them brainstorm some ideas. They liked basketball in high school? Try joining intramural basketball. Loved volunteering? Research some community service clubs.
4. Send Care Packages
The transition to college can be really tough because your child is suddenly without all the comforts of home. The dorm cafeteria might not have their favorite cereal, or they have to toss their favorite fuzzy socks. Sending little care packages full of comforts from home can help make the adjustment a little easier. Who doesn’t love getting their mom’s one-of-a-kind cookies?
5. Let Them Go
Sometimes parents inadvertently send messages to our kids that we need them. That can make it really difficult for your college kid to separate and feel free to fully invest in being on campus. For example, you might mention frequently that you miss your old grocery shopping routine or that dinners aren’t the same without them. You may even call your emerging adult every day to check-in with them. Of course, it’s okay to let them know you miss them. Just be mindful that you’re not verging on making them feel guilty for not being in touch more often or not being at home. Remember this: If you don’t let go, they won’t be able to let go either.
Is your college kid struggling more than just normal homesickness? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee for a free 20 minute consultation to see how she can help.