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A Far Cry From Home

August 28, 2014, 10:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

A Far Cry From Home

Thousands of college students are heading back to class.  For incoming freshman, it can be a difficult time adjusting to being away from home.

But sometimes it's tougher on the parents, especially those who are dropping off their child on a college campus for the very first time.

Saying goodbye is never easy.

"It was hard, knowing he's leaving but he was so excited, he was ready to go," Rhonda Lockwood said.

Lockwood is like a lot of parents this fall who had the sometimes difficult and emotional job of dropping off their first college student on campus.

Lockwood and her husband, who are the parents of five children, helped their oldest son, Sam, move into his new dorm room at the University of Minnesota earlier this month.

"So we got as much done as we could, said we were going to go, went outside, thought I was great and then he said don't cry, I said I'm not going to, so I cried and got it out of my system," Lockwood

"It's going to be okay, you're still the parent, you're still there to love and support and guard them," Becky Palugyay of Sanford Behavioral Health said.

Becky Palugyay is a mental health counselor for Sanford and says going off to college can sometimes be tougher on parents than it is for the child.

She says it's even tougher on parents who are helicopter parents; those who have hovered over their kids' every move and have micro-managed their every decision.

"There's a lot of helicopter parents who show themselves when their kids go off to college, unfortunately sometimes with helicopter parents they've done a disservice to their kids, because they get involved when they are over involved with their kids," Palugyay said.

Parents mean well, but the downside of being a helicopter parent is that their kids lack social, coping, and problem solving skills that will allow them to survive in a campus setting.

"They tend to be over protective, kind of controlling, they want to make sure that their children are happy, it's a fine line between meeting your children's needs, caring and loving them and being over involved," Palugyay said.

Lockwood, who's an attorney in Sioux Falls, doesn't think she's a so-called helicopter parent.

Sam is going to go into law school like his mother, something Lockwood says she tried to steer him away from.

"I don't think so, I'm an old school parent, I don't put up with a lot, I won't give a lot of leeway in the sense of, Don:  you don't give them a very long leash?  No I don't, because I don't want them to hang themselves, but with that said when it comes to college, he's the one who decided where he wanted to go, he just did it," Lockwood said.

Lockwood says she's trying not to keep close tabs on Sam while he's away at college. 

"I don't want to be a helicopter parent in college at all, that's when I say I don't want to text him or call him, because he needs to do this and he needs to grow and learn on his own," Lockwood said.

That's a good approach according to health experts.

Lockwood has some advice for other parents who will go through the same emotional turmoil when it's their turn to drop off their first child in college.

"I think the one thing everybody said to me was it's great, they're excited, this is good for them, I'm happy for them, all that is true without a shadow of a doubt, that doesn't make it easier for the parent," Lockwood said.

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