Parenting from Afar
Your college-age kid texts…”not feeling well.”
Great. What do you do when he’s miles away and you’re not there to do the “Doctor Mom” thing? Parenting from afar is part of the growing up process – letting them learn how cope on their own, helping them become adults. But when your otherwise healthy young adult isn’t feeling well and turns to you – the heartstrings tug a little tighter.
We’ve been lucky in the healthy kids department, blessed really. A few stitches, only one broken bone, nothing more than the occasional common cold. Dutifully we did all the well-child checks, immunizations and sports physicals that come with raising kids today. We packed him off to the dorm with a “health kit” that had Band-aids and some over-the-counter pain relievers and a warning to eat right and wash your hands. We were set.
Over the first couple of years away, as the cold and flu season hit, we’d have the occasional phone call with him standing in front of the dizzying array of medicines at the local drugstore. Can I take this multi symptom reliever with this pain reliever? What about this cold remedy? We had a long distance lesson in reading labels and the importance of knowing what to take to treat which symptom and don’t treat symptoms you don’t have. Again, the reminder to wash your hands.
But this time was different. Student health was involved and blood work was done. It was confirmed. Mono. A throat so sore he could only drink water. We got through it. By now I was skilled at the parenting long distance thing. I offered nutritious soft food advice, helped determine what medications could be taken for the symptoms, explained how to gargle warm salt water and reassured that all will be OK. And it was.
If you have a child heading off for college this fall, take the time to go over what to do when they don’t feel well. Review common over-the-counter medications for symptom relief, make sure he or she knows how to contact student health and send along a small first aid kit that includes a thermometer and hand sanitizer. That dreaded call or text will come – but you’ll both be prepared to take this next step in growing up.