I love college students. They are in such an amazing time of life. They finally get to focus their studies and work toward the vision they have for their future. Many college students will live away from their parents for the first time. They will develop new friendships, question the way they have done things in the past, and be exposed to new ideas. They will become more of who they are meant to be.
The parent of a college student will also go through lots of changes. Being a parent of a college student is different… very, very different. I will talk more about this adjustment next week.
For now, consider this analogy:
Think back to placing your baby in a car seat for the first time. (It’s okay to cry!)
Why am I talking about driving in a post about parenting a college student?
Because I want you to see that you have already successfully been through a significant process of letting go. You were fully in charge of your infant in the car, and then slowly, over time, you provided space and opportunity for your child to grow up and take the wheel.
Launching for college is another scary experience of letting go.
Sending kids off to college hurts. Don’t hold back your tears! These tears honor the life-long relationship between you and your now-an-adult child. They honor the highest highs, the lowest lows, and all the normal days in between. They honor connection and growth and memories.
As parents, it is easy to assume that our kids know how proud we are of them, or how much we adore them because of all the work we put into raising them.
I encourage you to take nothing for granted. Put into words how much you love them and adore them. If there are hurts between you, be intentional about forgiveness. This is a season to clean the slate and start new. Dream together and affirm all the good you want for them in the future.
Every parent will experience this season differently. Keep in mind, it is just as much a milestone for the parents as it is for the child.
How do you want to honor this milestone for your child?
How will you honor this milestone of yours?
Last fall, we moved our youngest child, Jack, into his freshman dorm. After saying goodbye, Jamey and I drove to Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. We sat on the expansive patio and cried while watching the sunset over the mountains. It was the end of a whole season of parenting.
Even if your child is staying in town for college, be intentional about marking this special event.
Next week, I’ll talk about the season AFTER launching your college-age child. For now, take some time to reflect on all you have invested to get to this point in your life.
What do you regret?
What do you celebrate?
Donna Durham, MMFT
President & Co-Founder