NEW CHAPTER: Going to university is both daunting and exciting.
NEW CHAPTER: Going to university is both daunting and exciting. Thinkstock

Next step for parenting when children move out

PARENTING, as I have discovered, comes in stages. But no matter which phase you are in, your children need you in some capacity.

The requirements may vary at each juncture but essentially the responsibility of taking care of them never ceases.

My first-born is off to university, moving out of home to a new city and in to share accommodation.

It is both daunting and exciting ... for both of us.

There is so much to organise and consider and my 17-year-old has lots of questions.

And even though this teenager pretends she doesn't need me, she still turns to her mum for the answers.

It is a new chapter in both our lives and we are navigating it together.

In the midst of collecting the essentials to take with her, there's been a long list of things to sort out: applications, enrolments, accommodation options, costs, finances, assistance, equipment needed for studies, forms to complete, documents to collect and transport to think about.

My role as a parent in all this is to provide an element of stability at a time when many things are in a state of change. It's about giving support but also understanding I can't live her life for her.

I will continue the conversations about staying safe, communicating and looking after her health. Are you eating properly? Are you getting plenty of sleep? Are you on top of your studies?

It is a new lifestyle with new challenges with a process of readjustment to go through. My role as a parent is changing ... again.

My job now is to help set my child on the path and encourage her to cope by herself.

I have a feeling my offspring will settle very quickly. She will throw herself into university life by joining one of the many clubs on campus and seek support that is readily available at the institution.

At least that's the recommendations I have given her.

I expect at first she may phone at regular intervals to keep in touch, let me know that things are going well and perhaps occasionally seek reassurance or ask advice.

After the comforts of home and the structure of school, I am sure it is going to be a little overwhelming wandering around an unknown campus, adjusting to lectures and tutorials, making new friends, learning new things and juggling her finances.

But as I prepare to drive off to university with my offspring in tow I feel satisfied that I have done my bit. I've told her countless times I'm only a call away and I will be there if she needs me, because in the end I am her parent for life.

- ROBYN COURTNEY



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