I’M ANX­IOUS AS MY DAUGH­TER IS GO­ING AWAY

Friday - - Advice -

QMy daugh­ter is go­ing to be 18 soon and will be go­ing to study in another coun­try. That’s mak­ing me ner­vous be­cause I don’t know if she’ll be able to look af­ter her­self. She’s a smart girl but quite naive when it comes to ev­ery­day life. Are there any tips I can give her to en­sure she is able to han­dle tricky sit­u­a­tions or re­la­tion­ships?

AIt’s a new chap­ter for both of you and be­lieve me, it’s some­thing many par­ents will be wor­ry­ing about. Of course, lots of young peo­ple at this age con­sider them­selves to be a grown-up, but mov­ing away from the se­cu­rity of home can throw up new sit­u­a­tions that they’ve never had to deal with on their own. So, I don’t think your daugh­ter’s naivety is un­usual. It’s my ex­pe­ri­ence that to­day’s ‘late teens’ have lived a much more shel­tered ex­is­tence than their par­ents, and I think this is what cre­ates that ex­tra layer of anx­i­ety.

Find com­fort in the fact that you have been pre­par­ing her for this mo­ment her whole life. That has been your parental role; to get her to a point where she is con­fi­dent enough to take the first steps to­wards be­ing in­de­pen­dent. You say she is a smart girl, so I have no doubt that as par­ents you have worked hard to build those in­nate skills of com­mon sense and good judge­ment that will help her to nav­i­gate the dif­fi­cult times and also make the most of the good ones.

There are two things that par­ents can do to sup­port their kids leav­ing home. The first is to think prac­ti­cally. Know­ing how to cook ba­sic healthy food, do their own laun­dry and man­age bud­gets are es­sen­tial yet sim­ple things to im­part to en­sure your daugh­ter can cope.

The sec­ond is to open up a dis­cus­sion about what she thinks the po­ten­tial pit­falls might be. It’s vi­tal that she un­der­stands how to keep her­self safe, how to recog­nise the signs that she is not cop­ing and also the ex­pec­ta­tions you have for be­ing in con­tact with her.

Be­yond this all you can do is to re­as­sure her that you will still be there to sup­port and guide her. This won’t al­ways be easy for you. There might be things that cause you to worry along the way, but it’s vi­tal that you keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open and try to re­act calmly or you might risk her choos­ing not to con­fide in you.

We are lucky that mod­ern tech­nol­ogy al­lows us to stay in touch easily and this makes sep­a­ra­tion eas­ier. How­ever, re­mem­ber to use this wisely. It’s tempt­ing to stay in al­most con­stant touch, but set lim­its for your­self and give her the space to find her feet.

It’s an ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing time for both of you, but I think if you trust in your own good par­ent­ing, make sure she un­der­stands how to cope with the prac­ti­cal things and main­tain the safety net if things go wrong, you’ll both make this tran­si­tion suc­cess­ful.

Rus­sell Hem­mings is a life coach, and clin­i­cal and cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­a­pist

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