Our son, Kyle will be leaving for his freshman year of college in about a month. I'm told this calls for emotional upset the likes of which I have yet to experience, though I suspect that for me, at least, it will rear its ugly head the week after he leaves, when I start my first week of school (always a stressful time, though exciting!) In the meantime, I will admit to a lot of confusion on this "parenting adults" gig, with which I have no experience.
I know all about early childhood and adolescence, as a scholar, a teacher, and as a parent. I have more than 15 years working with adolescents with emotional-behavioral problems. I can solve all kinds of problems from babyhood through adolescence, but this next step in parenting (the right way, anyway) is foreign to me. I understand the boundary issues part of it on an intellectual level, but the emotional level kind of throws me for a loop!
Every kid in my family left home the day they turned 18, becoming fully self-supported from day one. I have no frame of reference for being financially supported by one's parents in any shape or fashion. Mr.4444 and I each paid our own ways through college, working like dogs to make it through and to pay off our student loans. Today, though, I'm told by the folks in the college financial aid office that college costs have skyrocketed, but financial aid has not kept up. Even working full-time, today's college students will struggle to pay for their educations, and the Department of Education feels that "it is a parent's responsibility to support their child all the way through his/her education." We get that, and we will do what we can to help Kyle get the loans he needs (he's also earned four scholarships but those aren't enough), but there's a lot more to this than I realized.
I have no idea how let our bird fly out of the nest without immediately flying beneath him to make sure he's okay. I have a lot of questions...
When is the gravy train supposed to stop? When are you supposed to say, "No" when they ask for money? How much money? What are you supposed to do if your kid runs out of money? Are you supposed to shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh, well"? If so, how in the world do you do that?? Where is the line between enabling and supporting? How do you know when you reached it?
Here's what we've agreed to do:
*Continue paying for Kyle's cellphone, car insurance and health insurance, and continue a monthly $100 allowance, until he graduates. (He'll be at U.W.G.B. for three years, then chiropractic college for three more.)
*Co-sign student loans.
Here's what I have no idea about:
*All the rest!
I'd love to hear the advice from parents/adults out there who've successfully navigated this stage of parenthood/adulthood. Please share what you've learned from your experience! Thanks.