You've made it through infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, and the teenage years. Now your child is getting ready to go to college, and this can feel like a whole new learning curve. Your kid is not actually a kid any longer, but they're not really an adult yet either developmentally speaking. What does being a good father to kids in college mean?
Help with Budgeting
Ideally, you've been teaching your kids about money throughout their lives, but even if you haven't, there's a lot you can do help prepare financially them for the next few years and helping them make a budget is a big part of that. This will be easier if your child is living on campus and using the campus meal plan, but even if they are not, you can probably get some information on typical costs of living from the college.
Help your child figure out how much money they will have and how long they need to stretch it. You can also help them out with the costs of tuition by taking out a low-rate Private Parent Loan. There are parent loans that give parents the opportunity to cover some of the costs of their child's education even if they have not been able to save much toward it without having to dip into their retirement account.
Just as when you were initially preparing for kids, you had to tweak your communication inside your home, this stage requires that as well. As your child is approaching college age, they are growing more independent, which means that you've done your job well. However, you shouldn't reduce your communication with them. You child may be more private about more things, which is appropriate. But it doesn't mean you need to stop talking to them. In addition, you may want to set up some kind of plan to stay in touch when they are away at college, such as a weekly family video chat.
At the same time that you're trying to make sure that your child knows that you are always there for them, you also need to start letting go to some extent. The line between high school and college kid can seem arbitrary, and to some degree it is, but this is why the process of letting go has to start while your kid is still living at home. Let them make some of their own decisions and own mistakes. Obviously, you need to step in for anything serious, but it won't help your child to do everything you can to protect them. While giving them advice is important, try not to overwhelm them. You can make suggestions or, even better, wait until they ask for it. Don't show up to visit them without warning, and don't pressure them to come home.
There are plenty of activities to cope with empty nest syndrome and practical things you can do to smooth things along. Get them a locator device for their bag in case they lose it. Keep track of the academic calendar so that you don't schedule important family events when they are in the middle of finals. Find out what they need help with, and teach them how to do it instead of just doing it yourself, even if doing it yourself is faster and easier.