Off to College …

pink hydrangeaSome parents sail through sending their children off to college, while others have a terribly difficult time letting go. I’ve been trying to figure this out…

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Is it (perhaps) a bit easier for single parents?  I’m a single parent. And it has crossed my mind that divorce separates the family unit, long before a child leaves for college. Maybe the earlier loss of the marriage and family, and that grieving process makes sending a child to college easier. Meaning in-tact families haven’t yet been separated, so when they send a child to college, they feel they are missing something for the first time.

Another angle: As a single parent, the load gets heavy at times. Working, creating income stream(s) to support the children, nurturing them, driving them around, attending sporting events, plays, performances, cooking, cleaning and providing a comfortable home for them—it’s a LOT of work. There’s a reason children have two parents!! I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of raising Daughter. But sending her to college does take away some tasks. Lightens the load some…

Or maybe it has something to do with control. For some, it’s frightening that their children no longer need permission; they have freedom to do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

But it might go a little deeper than that. When we send our children to college, we never really know if they’re coming back. We have to trust that we have built a strong, solid relationship with our children; that they will want to continue to have a relationship with us after leaving home. But if they choose not to, we can’t make them. Plenty of kids go off to college, and end up spending their breaks with friends, girlfriends/boyfriends—anyplace but back home.

I believe that we don’t truly know what our children think of us, our decisions, how we did in raising them until they are out on their own. During their time under our roof, they’re too close to have perspective. The perspective comes with time and reflection. In other words, our report card comes later, sometimes years after our children leave home. We might think we did just fine—only to find out we didn’t do nearly as well as we thought. And that’s scary!!

Maybe its personality? I tend to be a happy person, to see the bright side of situations. So I’m excited for my daughter. I think having a child who is ready to go to college, who WANTS to go, is a great problem to have. I’m lucky to be in this situation. It’s a little quieter these days, but I’m finding ways to embrace and enjoy this time.

Maybe those with ‘glass is half empty’ personalities struggle more in adapting the their children leaving home? Tend to see the negatives, instead of the positives?

Regrets? Perhaps a child leaving home feels final, because coulda, woulda, shouldas creep in. In my case, I know I gave parenting Daughter my all. I made mistakes—and plenty of them. But I have no regrets. Maybe that makes letting go easier?  I’m not sure. But I do know that Daughter was ready to fly the nest—and that I was ready to let her go…

Would I feel that way if I left things unsaid or had regrets? I don’t know.

Recently posted online by a friend:

This may be quite politically incorrect, but tough; there is Nothing in this world more important than raising your children. Give them God to rely on, your time, your energy, your unconditional love, teach them right from wrong and follow through. Be strong enough to admit when you’re wrong and insistent when you’re right. Give them a bedtime, feed them well, and be there so they trust that they are a priority. Hug them all the time and put your phone away when they’re around. Your daily input ends too quickly but your daily teachings stay for a lifetime.

                                                                                          ~Diane Lauffenburger Schober

Pretty much sums up what parenting is about.

Anybody have ideas? Agree with me? Think I’m way off the mark?

Sending a child to college is new territory for me. I welcome your comments…

2 thoughts on “Off to College …

  1. My daughter left for college a couple of weeks ago and I think I can offer another perspective. I’m not single (I”m married) and it has been hard on me because we were very close and shared most things. So I think there is the grieving process going on that has some elements of grieving when someone dies. You are not with them, and while you can talk every now and again, I don’t choose to put my needs on her and call or text every time I feel like it, which would be often!

    Also, my main focus has been my children (our youngest is the one who just left) and second to that has been my coaching career. So when she left, I didn’t have a structured job to go to, but I work from home. That shifts the entire trajectory of the day when I don’t have kids coming home and how I spend my time. It’s shifting where I spend my time, as I don’t want to be alone in the house for too many hours. It also is shifting even my direction for the future.

    And finally, after so many years of focusing on others (through choice and temperment), now it is focusing on me, which feels good and scary all at the same time.

    So for these reasons and more, it feels hard right now. I know I will come through it and am already finding so many gifts along the way, but am honoring my sad heart.

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