Stage 4
And finally, if she's are lucky, your child will end up at college, land of freedom and learning and parties galore. The personal reinvention here is on a totally different level because, for the first time since preschool, you have to learn what life is like without your parents' constant presence. In college, parents finally get a chance to relax, even if they stay active on the sidelines.

As a parent, you can help your college student best by realizing that the thing she needs most is independence. For me, college was a time to discover my adult identity. Just as in preschool, the best thing you, the parent, can do is provide a constant source of love and affection in the background. Let your child know that it's okay to become an adult and still be your child at the same time.

If there's one area nearly every college student could use a little help in, it's figuring out how to live a healthy lifestyle. You can pack a copy of my brand new, revised and expanded book, The Dorm Room Diet between their extra-long twin sheets to help get them off on the right foot. It's a friendly guide to making the most of their time in college without gaining the dreaded "freshman 15," or losing their sanity! I wrote it while I was in college, so the advice is specific to the special environment that being away at school represents. And, best of all, my advice comes from personal experience, and it really works. I lost 30 pounds by getting my priorities straight and being conscious of what, when and where I ate.

I'm looking forward to enjoying watching my children progress through each of these stages, even though I know it will be hard to let them go. My mother always talks about how she still thinks of me as my 2-year-old self—or maybe she says that I still act like my 2-year-old self. I always forget. But learning how to remain a parent at all times without parenting in the same way you always have is a struggle for anyone, but one you can triumph over. Good luck! Hope to see you once I get there.

Daphne Oz is the author of the national best-seller The Dorm Room Diet—now available in paperback—and The Dorm Room Diet Planner and creator of the Dorm Room Diet Workout DVD.

Keep Reading:
10 tips for beating the back-to-school blues
How to pack the best back-to-school backpack
Help your child make a smooth move to middle school
Plus, even more great tips for parents of school-age kids


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