Your Child Is Off To College and You Are Worried

This is probably true no matter how capable and grounded your soon-to-be college freshman son or daughter might be.  Even though we applaud their growth and know that they have been moving beyond our sphere-of-control for a long time, this is a VERY large adjustment.  And we worry. That is what parents do. My son went off to his freshman year five years ago. And I was worried, along with sad,and also a bit disoriented.  

As is often the case, on ‘move in day’ they separated the parents and the kids and herded us into the chapel to listen to administrators on campus tell us that they will take good care of our kids. While they were droning on, I found a scrap of paper and was writing out a list of things I wanted to say to my son.  It was getting to be a pretty long list. Then suddenly the speaker somehow penetrated my obsession with this list and what I needed to say to my son.

This was what I heard him say

“Many of you are sitting here thinking about things you need to tell your son/daughter before you leave. (NAILED!).  These are probably reasonably good things to tell them, and I am pretty certain that they know these things already. Why? Because you have told them these things at least once and probably more often than that.  We understand you are worried, but they don’t need to absorb your worry, they have enough of their own. The only thing they need to know, and it is ok if they have heard this from you before, is that you love them, you believe in them, you know they have got this, and you look forward to seeing them soon – but not too soon.  It would probably be good if you and they had figured out when it made sense for you all to touch base next.”

I was in tears as he spoke. I realized how much of this was not things I needed to say to my son to protect him, but more work I needed to do with myself as we all embarked on this new phase of parenting. So – I wiped my eyes, my husband and I  met our son in the parking lot to say good-bye, I hugged him and told him I loved him, I believed in him, I knew he had this, (slipped in that he can call us anytime), but we agreed on a cadence of communicating and we stuck to it.  

It wasn’t easy – it was important, and it was ultimately helpful.  Our son thrived in college, but it was not without bumps along the way, mostly small, some not so small, but all important lessons that have helped make him the wonderful young man he is today.

So good luck mom and dad.  You have gotten them this far – make sure you let them know you love them, you believe in them, (maybe that they can call anytime they want to talk 😊) and that they have got this.  

In the meantime if you are looking for some extra support or advice and to connect with other parents join us in our Facebook group!