Do not ask if your child is homesick.

The power of association can be a dangerous thing. The first few weeks of school are action-packed; adjusting to new people and new situations takes up a majority of a new student's time and concentration. Unless they're reminded of it, they'll probably get over the loneliness and homesickness. And even if they don't tell you during those first few weeks, they do miss you.

Ask Questions.

News students have a tendency to resent interference with their newfound lifestyle, but they desire the assurance of knowing that parents are still concerned. Honest inquiries and friendly discussions can strengthen the bond you have with your student.

Expect Change.

Your son or daughter will change. It's natural, inevitable and can be inspiring. Remember that he or she will be basically the same person that you sent away to school, aside from interest changes and personality revisions. Don't expect too much too soon. Maturation is not an instantaneous process.

Write. Email.

Though most first-year students in all areas are eager to experience their newfound independence, they also rely on the security of family ties. There's nothing more depressing than a week of empty mailboxes. Remind them that you're still around. Care packages go a long way.

Do not worry excessively about "down in the dumps" phone calls or e-mails.

Often when trouble becomes too much for a student to handle, the only place to turn is home. Often, unfortunately, this is the only time the urge to communicate is felt so strongly, so you never get to hear about the "A" paper or the new significant other.

In these crisis times, they may unload trouble or tears of anger, then return to routine, relieved and lightened, while you inherit the worry. Be patient with this type of communication. Granted it's a service that makes you feel lousy, but it works wonders for a frustrated student.

Do not tell them these are the best years of their lives.

The college years can be full of discovery, inspiration, and fun as well as indecision, disappointment, and mistakes. Often, except in retrospect, it's not the good times that stand out.

Parents who perpetuate the "best years" myth are working against their student's development. Try to accept and understand both the highs and lows of college life.

Trust them.

Students are undergoing a challenging period of personal growth at this time. They probably don't need their parents to second-guess their second-guessing.

Allow them to fly, but leave room in the nest.

They will return home. They are not gone forever.

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