A Message for Parents of College-Bound Students

Message to Parents

Dear Parents whose sons and daughters are about to matriculate into college –

Are you having butterflies in your stomach, and maybe second thoughts?? ” S/he isn’t really mature enough for this . . . how will he handle the self-responsibility?  Will she be safe?? Will he get up and get to class, and turn in his work on time??  What about doing the laundry??”  

Seeing your child go off to college is a challenging time for parents, when you can let your heart (even your eyes) overflow with abundance as you wish for your college-bound child to be safe, but not stuck . . . to move forward on a path, but not one that leads to the same old gateways . . . to be willing to take risks, and be able to learn from them and not repeat the process.

You can’t expect them to understand or sympathize . . . or even acknowledge . . . the transition their departure creates for you.  They will never know the level of love and hopes they have inspired in you until they have their own children.  Meanwhile, be patient with them . . . don’t hasten their passages.  Remember the birthing process – there is a time what the right thing to do is just to breathe.

Remember when your baby was new, and you slept with one eye open, listening for her breathing and her every cry?  Remember 16 or so years later sleeping with one eye open listening for a car to come home and the door to open, and light to go on in the bathroom?  After you’ve dropped your dear child off at his dorm room (his new home), or left her at the airport, to fly off to college alone, and you have walked out, as straight and stiff as you can, with that awkward grin pasted on your face . . . then what?

Well let me tell you some of the wonderful things you have to look forward to!  After kids go to college (it may take a few months, or a year), they begin to realize/be aware that parents not only know a few valuable things, but that you actually seem to continue to learn.  Kids also bring home fresh new ideas for you to chew on – some may take some careful or repeated swallowing, but they are bound to refresh your vision and challenge you to re-evaluate your positions . . . always a good but never a comfortable thing.  If they email you about their readings, by all means, you can locate and read some of their new materials too . . . but DON’T write them about your opinions, please!  And definitely, for the first year, keep their room (and most of the house) exactly the way they left it, please – no redecorating, or putting away trophies, mementos, stuffed animals.

But look in the mirror often and begin to see your selfnot your son’s or daughter’s mother or father.  Take time to read and think about why you are here on the planet . . . that’s what you want your child to be thinking about . . . why, and what are you going to do about it?   From now on, the best ways that you will influence your child will come from role modeling . . . pay attention to your SELF – enjoy, appreciate, and yes, grow.

Here are a few suggestions for books we feel confident you will find helpful:

Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger – it is in its FIFTH edition, which should tell you that many parents have found it very useful!

You’re On Your Own, (But I’m Here if you Need Me): Mentoring Your Child during the College Years, by Marjorie Savage

Doors Open From Both Sides, by Steffany Bane and Margo Bane Woodacre, a mother-daughter duo.  This is a very useful book for both the student and the parents.

Off to College, A Guide for Parents, by Roger H. Martin. This book, by a former college president, was just released and it is thoughtful and very comprehensive. He knows the college experience from the inside, and the parent experience, also.

Written by Joyce Reed

(c) College Goals LLC 2015