The Longest Goodbye

Let your child jump into college life without you. It begins with saying goodbye.

By FamilyTime


The college or university your child has decided to attend is no doubt thrilled to have him as a student. He worked hard during high school to earn his rightful place in those hallowed halls.

This same institution is a little less thrilled about you hanging around campus, or at least on drop-off day!

In these days of “helicopter” moms and dads—so called because they “hover” over their kids—some colleges have instituted ways to shoo parents off campus as soon as the last duffle bag is dumped on a dorm room floor. There are “goodbye” ceremonies, student-only orientation events, and upper classmen and women hanging around urging the new student to go hither and yon—without Mom or Dad.

Prepare Before You Leave Home

Some parents have dreaded the moment of separation for 18 years. Others look forward to their new-found independence or the time they can spend with younger children. Most have very mixed emotions.

College administrators and other experts suggest that parents make time before the first day of school to have meaningful conversations with their kids. Move-in day is not the time to discuss your hopes and dreams for your child, or to expect her to talk about her anxieties and expectations.

If you arrive on campus with details in order, separating will be easier for both of you. This means setting up checking accounts (if appropriate) or being ready to put money in an account for a campus swipe card. It also means making sure your offspring understand they will have to do their own laundry and that they should write to Grandma at least once before Thanksgiving break.

Help your freshman unpack, make the bed, find the outlets for the computer and phone charger, and locate the bathroom and laundry room. Meet his roommate (and make no judgmental comments, even when out of earshot!). Attend any welcoming events planned for both parents and children.

And then hit the road!

The Right Way to Say Goodbye

Most kids do not want their moms to cry and their dads to bear hug them in front of roommates and other students on their hallway. Make the goodbyes short and sweet. The sooner your child sees your car round the bend in the road, the sooner she can start living her new life.

Of course, your child may not like seeing the car fade into the distance, ibut t’s a moment he must experience. Many kids have bouts of homesickness. But consider the alternative. Do you want to have a son or daughter who can’t be independent? Who can’t make it on his or her own? (And who is hanging around your house for months....years....?)

As you drive or fly home, pat yourself on the back. You have done a great job raising this kid. She made it into a good school and has all the tools she needs to succeed.

And then indulge in a good cry! You have earned it.