As your daughter embarks on the next leg of her journey, i.e. college, there are five important things she needs to let go of. And I don’t mean her teddy bear. The following are meaningful items that will require some reflection and action.
- Expectations: It’s high time your daughter starts to believe that she knows what’s best for her more than even her parents. I encourage girls to listen to the advice from adults who love them, but then to go to their rooms, close the door, and run it through the filter of “Is this right for me?” “Is this in my best interests?” What do I want?” She will need to leave behind the pattern of doing things for her parent’s approval or to avoid disappointing people. It’s HER life now.
- Comfort zone: Starting college is the perfect time to get uncomfortable. I encourage girls to get out of their comfort zones and reinvent themselves. Choose dorms, sororities, roommates, friends, and colleges that are different than your high school crowd. Don’t let fears cause you to settle for High school 2.0. You’ll learn so much by spending time with a variety of people with a variety of interests.
- Your old story: Past experiences, especially negative ones, leave their mark on girl’s sense of self. If your daughter was excluded from or lost her best friend group, she may have decided she is not good enough, pretty enough, she’s annoying or weird, that she doesn’t fit, or that she’s not worthy of good friends. Losses may have left her with the belief that she can’t trust people to be there for her. Absent parents could cause her to decide that she’s not important or loveable. It is imperative that she take some quiet time to reflect on her past and to make better decisions about what these experiences mean about her. She’s in charge of her story, and I hope she walks onto campus knowing she’s deserving of love, respect, good friends, and a great life.
- Reputation: When girls start fresh at college, 99% of her peers have no past history with her and thus she has no reputation. A young woman I counseled recently told me she was tired of her friends treating her like a “party animal bimbo”. I reminded her that we are always teaching people how to treat us and to take responsibility for how her behaviors and her own beliefs about herself had created this persona. The question for her and every freshman is how do they want to show up at college? What kind of reputation do they want to leave with when at graduation? This possibility is one of the amazing things about starting over.
- Umbilical cord: Cut that cord and leave it behind! That cord represents places where parents are taking too much responsibility for their daughter’s life. This includes being involved with professors, friends, parking tickets, and problem-solving. It’s also high time you retire that horrible 360 app and the need to know every detail of her life. I encourage girls to have a heart-to-heart talk with their parents and establish boundaries about how often they will talk. And don’t expect her to answer your texts within minutes either. She’s an adult now, away from home at college, and trying to grow up.
Self-reliance, grit, and self-esteem must be earned
Self-reliance, grit, and self-esteem are earned by overcoming challenges and obstacles and taking charge of your life. Your daughter needs to keep letting you know how she wants you to support her at every stage, and your job is to respect her wishes and get your needs met as well. Enjoy the ride as you watch her blossom into the woman she’s meant to be.
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