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Empty Nest? How to Help Your Child When They’re Away at School

By Helen Reaume

Published July 27, 2017 • 3 Min Read

While you might be tempted to call or text them hourly, allowing them the space to grow is an important part of their development. So, what is a parent to do?

Here are some ways to stay connected to your kids from afar.

Send Them Care Packages

Residence food is notoriously bad and that means that your child will need reinforcements. Send homemade cookies and other comfort items they’re likely missing or can’t afford to buy. Continue traditions that you’ve always observed by sending them their favourite Thanksgiving baked goods and Halloween treats.

Portrait of young beautiful casual woman holding smartphone, looking at screen, using app or messaging while sitting at modern workplace with laptop, books, coffee and cookies in home office or dorm.

Surprise Them With Cash

One of the nicest surprises a broke undergraduate can receive is an extra $25 or $50. Send your child an e-transfer out of the blue when you’re thinking about them, along with a note telling them to go out with friends and have fun! These transfers are easy to send using a mobile banking app or by logging into your online banking account.

Make Special Plans

If your child is coming home for the holidays, start making plans now so that they have something to look forward to. While you can still do all the traditional things you enjoy together like cooking or going skiing, make plans to do something special while they are home.

Have a Money Check In

Now that your child is settled into school, it’s important to talk to them about money to make sure they’re spending responsibly. Discuss whether they’ve been able to stick to their budget or whether they were surprised by how expensive textbooks or extracurricular activities were. Talk to them about how they’re using their credit cards and make sure that they understand how to pay their bill online and stay on top of monthly payments. Discuss whether it makes sense for them to look into other sources of income such as an after-school or summer job or whether there are scholarships or grants that they can apply for. Finally, give them an opportunity to talk about any money concerns they might have for the future – whether they’re long term concerns like how they’ll get a job after graduation or short term concerns like how they’ll pay for books next semester. If they’re worrying about money it will be helpful for them to get it off their chest and share their concerns with you.

Going away to school is an important time for kids to grow as people and figure out who they are. Many kids pull away from their parents, or can be hyper-focused on their coursework, making calling home low on the priority list. As difficult as it may be to tolerate the separateness, don’t worry – they’ll come back to you.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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