November 4, 2016
Sending my children away to college is something I never pictured myself doing. Before they were old enough, I just assumed they would all stay at home and pick a local, suitable university, or at least one in the same state. But, as my husband and my priorities shifted and God led us another direction, I found myself sending off four children (so far) over 1,000 miles away, to Indiana. And while it can be exciting anticipating how our kids will navigate life on their own, it can also be scary to let them go. However, there are several ways we can support them from home that will help both you and them survive the new phase of life.
While it can be exciting anticipating how our kids will navigate life on their own, it can also be scary to let them go.
When I know for certain that someone is praying for me, I feel cared for. I am always grateful when a faithful friend assures me he or she prays regularly for my family. It is the most important thing we can do and should be the first thing we do in support of our college students.
In The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, Stormie Omartian says, “While we can’t pray a relationship with God into existence for them, we can pray that their hearts will be turned toward the Lord and open to receive from Him. We can pray that they have a desire to know God better and to become more like Him. We can pray that their hearts will be closed to the lies of the enemy and open to God’s truth.” College is a time of rapid growth, especially emotionally and spiritually. Our children need to know we are praying for them faithfully, so they can rest in the loving hands of our perfect Father. I have even sometimes written out prayers in a letter and mailed them to my children.
A birthday banner sent to Kathy’s daughter, Allison, at college.
Letters from home are always appreciated. Sure…calls, emails, and texts are all communication too, but nothing beats a real letter found in your mailbox. My letters tell about everyday things that happen in the family. A homesick student needs to feel connected to home. I like to buy post cards when we take trips and save them for when I want to write a short note. That post card from a Colorado trip three years ago might seem random, but it’s a way of saying, “I love you” and elicits a meaningful memory. Sending packages of favorite “hard-to-get” items or home-baked goods from a sibling are things that say, “I am thinking of you.” Make sure to include photos of the family for decorating the dorm room. Don’t expect that your college student will have much time to respond. That’s okay. This is understandably an intense season when they don’t have a lot of free time for writing home.
Ask questions of your college student and be interested in his or her world at school. Be aware of those testing dates, speech days, and remember to ask how they went. (Don’t forget to pray too.) Be interested in what they are learning and who their closest friends are. I have even been blessed to develop relationships with some of my children’s friends.
Be interested in what they are learning and who their closest friends are.
It is important to listen to them talk about their joys and their struggles. Refrain from giving too much advice unless sought. Dish out the encouragement, not the criticism. This is the time to let your adult child grow. Your lifelong efforts up to this point will pay off if you’ve prepared them well. As your son or daughter navigates through this life stage, their skills in decision-making, time management and interpersonal relationships will be tested and stretched. This is an exciting time and you can enjoy being a cheerleader from home no matter how far away they are.
There you have it! Prayer, communication (with packages!) and a listening ear are three ways to support your college student from home. After giving all this love, don’t be surprised if you make it so easy for them to be away that they don’t want to come home.
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