Holding on and Letting Go: A Parent’s Bittersweet Journey

Leaving for college can be a huge change for both parents as well as the child.  While you see your child getting excited to leave the nest, as the parent you start to feel more and more anxious for that tumultuous day.  Don’t fret; your child is growing up, but that doesn’t mean they no longer need you.  Distance can be good thing – giving them the ability to grow up and be the respectful adult you’ve taught them to be.  However, it’s hard to judge just how much distance you should give.

Phone Calls

I know when your child first moves away all you have are those precious phone calls.  You may even think to call them every day to ask, “How was your day?”  I’m here to tell you this is a big mistake.  Calling every once in a while is an okay thing, but pushing the limit can be too much.  Figure out a schedule between the two of you where you’re free to talk and both parties want it.

This may be a hard first step to not talk to your child every day, but it does get easier.  Then, before you know it, they’ll be calling you first.

Don’t Smother

Before your child goes away to college don’t hover over their every move.  This will just push them away before they’re even out the door.  Try to give them space; this is a crucial time in their lives as well as your own.  This way, when they do move out and they’re on their own it won’t be a challenge to get them to talk to you.

The bottom line is don’t push at them to give you every single detail of their life.  They know you’re there for them, so let them come to you, and trust me they will.

Let Them Find Their Own Way

I speak from experience.  If you try to control your child’s every move the last thing they’re going to want to do is call you every day and give you any updates on what’s going on in their lives.  Be respectful of the fact that your child is growing up and trying to make it out on their own.  Of course they miss the comfort of home just like you miss them being there.  Just know that you’ve tried your best to teach right from wrong, and now’s the time to let them make their own mark on the world.

Support System

Your child knows you’ll always be there for them.  I had a couple hard times during my first year away from home and the first person I called was my mom.  She always picked up the phone and would give me words of encouragement.  Your child knows this too.  Let them come to you with their problems.  Life will sometimes not be fair to them, but your children have to learn how to pick themselves up and solve problems that may come their way.  Dealing with problematic situations – it’s a part of growing up and becoming an adult.

I can’t begin to understand what it feels like to be a parent and watching your child grow up and to eventually move away.  Always keep in mind that your child is attending college to further their education, and that’s a remarkable thing in and of itself.  This is their choice, and you helped them make it to this point in their life.  To all of you parents, my hat is off to you.  You deserve a well-earned pat on the back.

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Kali White

Kali White

Kali White is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a degree in Communications and a minor in Sociology. Her goal is to have a career working for a publication company writing and editing. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, reading, playing and listening to music, and travelling.