Monday, July 6, 2009
View From The Perch!
Letting Go and Saying Good-bye
to Our College Bound Kids
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, we need to talk.
Some of us are having
a very hard time with the idea of our college bound kids going far away. By 'far away' I mean across country.
Perhaps a little reality check might help.
Covered Wagons now reside in museums. Land Lines will soon too!
airplane takes five hours to fly from Washington DC to California, non-stop.
It takes me that long to drive to New Paltz
in upstate New York.
We have cell phones and email, and Skype. Our kids could not escape us if they tried!!!
True they cannot come home on weekends. Trust me, that is a good thing, for us! And we cannot visit them as often. That
is an even better thing for them!
I cried my eyes out for three days when my son left home. I had an ache in
my heart for longer than that. Missing his presence took even longer to ease. But he chose the school he wanted to attend.
He was fortunate to be admitted. He was excited about going. Would I have had the right to say-no, you can't go, it's
too far-solely because I'd miss him too much? Yes, we would be 'far'sick for him. Yes, he would be homesick for us. And it
took our dog forever to adjust. But no, I would not have had the right to make him responsible for my emotional well being.
That would have been terribly selfish.
This stage of our children's lives belongs to them. It is NOT about our
sadness and longing. It is about their motivation and new challenges, exploration and new endeavors. It is a right
of passage-the first step out into a world beyond home and so very important for their future emotional strength.
relationship we built with our children actually begins to crystallize once they go off to college. For the first time,
they get to perceive home from afar and in a whole different light. If the family dynamic is strong, believe me it gets stronger
and brighter in college. It will not matter whether they are next door, or on the opposite coast, they will voluntarily
reach out to share, and want us to be there to listen. That simply takes email and phone access.
I can say all of
this because my son has graduated from college on the opposite coast. I do know how it feels to say good-bye and get on a
plane and come home to an empty house. And I remember how lost I felt for the first few months. But that transformation
was mine and I grew from it, just as my son grew being away from home. College is about making all sorts of new adjustments
that have nothing to do with being close or far away and everything to do with existing on one's own, making decisions, meeting
new people, and deciding curriculum--in short, it is all about taking total responsibility for one's social and academic life.
The most important thing about going away to college is that our kids get to discover who they are independent of
us. They simply cannot do that until they leave home. And they certainly cannot do it, if we hold them back.
I believe in anything that allows our children to move forward. Letting our sons or daughters choose where they want to
go to college is a vital part of moving them forward towards independence and confidence.
You will be ok. They
will be ok. You will cry. They will miss you a lot. But everyone will grow. And a whole new connection with your sons and/or
daughters will begin to build. They will need you just as much. They will want to share their aspirations and explorations
even more and you will find all sorts of new ways to be close.
So let them go. And if they want to go to the
opposite coast-just remember-in our tech world, you will not lose them. You can't lose them, even if you wanted to--especially
when they beep, ring-tone, email, fax, Skype, Facebook, Twitter--need more money, ASAP!!! And you reply-No, no! I can't be
reached! Hiding in a covered wagon! In The Museum!