My baby boy turned 18 last summer. He is my middle child, and I would call him a late bloomer. He applied to colleges this year, made his decision, and we visited the college where he accepted admission last week. My oldest child has successfully navigated the first several years of college with some typical ups and downs. But something feels different about sending my middle child off to college. I feel that pull to help him too much and control his decision making. Partly because he is not particularly driven to make decisions for himself, and partly because I just want to protect him from the world.
Part of me can’t wait to see what he does when he sets out in the world, and part of me wants to grab onto his shirt and prevent him from leaving. I have until August to get over myself, so wish me luck. (By the way, I have already bought bedding for his dorm room without consulting him. Too early? Too much? By the way, he won’t care about his bedding).
For those of us wanting to cling, and for those of us ready to send our kids out, I have some advice. For both groups. Your 18 year old is now an adult. This means you can’t legally get medical information or financial information, or information about your child’s grades or anything else from their college. It’s probably not a reach to say that most 18 year olds will need some help navigating their newfound adulthood. That means you might get a call or text from your child asking for help with something like a bank issue or maybe even a medical problem.
Before your 18 year old sets off, have them sign a Durable General Power of Attorney and an Advance Medical Directive containing a Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA release. These documents give you permission as the child’s agent to get their otherwise private financial and medical information and help them. Imagine a worst case scenario that your child is in an accident and cannot speak for themself. You would be in a much better position to help your child under those circumstances if you have these legal documents in place.
Of course, we know all adults should have these documents in place, not just young adults. As for my baby boy, you can bet your booty I already had him sign these documents.