This is the time of year that students and parents attend college orientation, an exciting time for students but a tearful time for many parents. As a campus minister, I’ve spent over 15 years helping with college orientations and I have occasionally thought that parents were a bit melodramatic about saying goodbye. All that changed last year when my first offspring left for college himself.  I found the experience gut-wrenching, not because I was worried about him or his future, and certainly not because I wanted him to stay home. I just felt the grief associated with the end of that stage of our relationship.  So based on my experiences, here are a few things I’ve learned about saying goodbye.

For parents:

  • Let go. I know this is such a blinding flash of the obvious that nobody will say it, and that’s why I need to say it.
  • Don’t hover. Agree to mutually acceptable levels of contact by phone, text, social media, visits, etc.
  • Be patient. Your student is probably not as ready as he/she thinks. He/she will make some surprisingly silly mistakes.
  • Be realistic. Your student is probably more ready than you think. He/she will make some surprisingly good decisions.
  • Embrace this stage. An adult-to-adult relationship with your son or daughter is a deeply satisfying and rewarding thing.

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