Together or Apart: How to Co-Parent a College Bound Kid
As a parent, there’s nothing quite like the moment your child is poised to leave the nest and step onto a college campus. Speaking from personal experience (as both a stepparent and a biological parent), it’s a bittersweet mix of emotions, charged with anticipation, pride, and maybe a hint of melancholy. When co-parenting is part of the equation, things can feel even more complex, but guess what? You’re not alone, and I promise. Whether it’s a school right here in Minnesota or further away like Illinois, Nebraska or Florida, this is a part of the journey!
Open Up That Communication Channel
The first step is a simple (but not always easy) one: Talk. Share your hopes, your concerns, your dreams for your child as they embark on this exciting new chapter. Remember, the strength of co-parenting lies in transparent and respectful communication.
Tackle Move-In Day as a Team
When it comes to preparations and move-in day, think teamwork. Involve your child, share the tasks, and aim to make the day a positive memory rather than a logistics headache. This isn’t just about moving boxes—it’s about moving forward.
Respect and Recognition Goes a Long Way
Each of you has a unique and invaluable role in your child’s life. Take the time to acknowledge and respect your co-parent’s perspective on the transition to college, and make sure they know you value their contributions. Trust me, it can do wonders.
Ride the Waves of Conflict with Grace
Even when conflict emerges, remember: Effective co-parenting is still achievable. Set firm boundaries, keep discussions centered around solutions, and if disagreements seem to be escalating, consider enlisting a mediator. Above all, prioritize your child’s happiness.
Enlist Support if Needed: Therapists and Co-Parenting Coaches
No one said you have to do this alone. Therapists and co-parenting coaches are there for a reason. They can provide insights, strategies, and guidance to help you navigate co-parenting challenges. It’s okay to ask for help; in fact, it’s a sign of strength. I’m here to help if you need it, just sent me a message, right from this website!
Remember, It’s Your Child’s Journey
While you may hold differing opinions, the ultimate decisions about college should come from your child. Offer your guidance, your support, but ensure your child’s voice is heard. It’s their journey, after all.
Money Talks: Plan Finances Together
Open discussions about college expenses can save a lot of headaches down the line. Plan together who will cover what. The smoother the financial transition, the less stress for your child.
Keep Up the Support and Practice Patience
Your child will need your support throughout this transition, and not just financially. Be available to lend an ear, offer comfort, or just chat about their day. And remember, patience is essential—not just with your child, but with your co-parent, and yourself as well.
Once college begins, keep the lines of communication open with your child. Let them know you’re still there, still cheering them on. As I often remind my husband AND my ex-husband, sometimes you have to text the college kid first!
Sending a child off to college while co-parenting may feel like an uphill climb, but remember, every step is a step forward. Whether ‘together or apart,’ you’re shaping an incredible milestone in your child’s life. Lean on professional support if you need to, keep your focus on your child, and remember: You’re doing an amazing job.
As Brené Brown would say, “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” This journey isn’t about perfection—it’s about showing up, day after day, for your child.
Here’s to you, brave parent. Here’s to this beautiful, messy, rewarding journey. If you need some extra help – You know where to find me.