>Letting Go

>Three years ago, my daughter returned home from completing her freshman year of college and up until recently, I’d forgotten (intentionally) about the shocking experience. The memory was resurrected when I found myself engaged in a conversation and offering up advice to two college students just returning home from their freshman year of college.  Both were frustrated and were talking about how their moms were having trouble “letting go.”  Like most college students who live on campus, they thoroughly enjoyed their first year of newfound freedom, but quickly discovered when returning home, that all of their freedom quickly vanish at the arrival of their parent’s doorstep.  I swear, I can laugh now, but that junk was not funny when I was living what felt like was a nightmare.  I re-lived quite a few moments as the two swapped stories- “when I was at school, there were no rules!”  “Geez!  What am I going to do at home that I didn’t and couldn’t have already done at school?”  “Should I tell my mom that I’m going to the movies, or should I ask?”  “I’m so confused!”   Their words stirred up lucid memories of my battle and my struggle with my daughter’s return from college.

Toward the later end of students’ high school years, a great deal of emphasis and preparation is placed on those students transitioning to college.  However, from my personal experience, there was little advice and planning that would prepare me for the toggling between letting go when my daughter left for college and managing her return home at the end of her first year.  Given that I attended college as an adult and did not experience this transition as a teen, that may be the reason behind my ill preparedness in being aware of what to expect.  In any case, I’m certain and hope that the transition is more pleasant for others.  No two children, biological or not, are the same- so I recognize that each situation is different.  With all that said, now what?  If you have a college age child or know of someone who does, you understand what I’m talking about. In any case, I thought I’d share a few words of wisdom with you and hope to make your experience more congenial than mine.  Anyway, having survived the journey, and having heard the argument from both sides, I’ve learned that both sides need to first take a deep meditative breath then…
  1. Be realistic about your expectations- Your son or daughter may not be, but you have to; trust me.  
  2. Prepare yourself for a little attitude, but it may not be as bad as you think.
  3. Be proactive.  Don’t wait until your son or daughter returns home at 4:00 a.m. to address “house rules.”  In retrospect, I should have sat down with my daughter as soon as she returned from school.
  4. Don’t assume anything.  Talk about your expectations such as, eating, laundry, chores, etc… As most of you know, some college students can develop all sorts of nasty habits that may not be acceptable in your home.
  5. Listen – not with the intent to respond, but to actually hear and understand the words being spoken.
  6. Compromise.  I know— why on earth should we compromise? It’s our home; we pay the mortgage, bills, etc…  The fact of the matter is that our babies are growing up and we have to begin to let go (within reason).  For those who know me, they will say that I’m “old school” and can be   Understand that since birth, we’ve controlled almost every aspect of our children’s lives and now that they’ve left the nest, they are feeling or pretending to be more confident about making their own decisions.  After all, for ten months, they survived (narrowly in some cases) on their own without us telling them when to get up, when to eat, when to sleep, etc…  So, as frightening as it may be, we have to figure out how to loosen up our grip and to slowly let go.

I believe that the notion of growth comes to us through various experiences; some more jarring than others.  Perhaps the more jarring, the more growth we experience.  But as I watch my children endure physiological growth, I conceptualize the same growth taking shape for myself.   This is a new and welcoming experience for me.  Generational gaps in my family did not provide me with the idea or the awareness that my recent experiences (as a parent) existed or were even possible.  I come from a place where things and people don’t change; of course, as logical adult, I now know that changes occur from within and are possible. I look forward to sharing this wisdom with my children. 

As parents, most of us have spent 18+ years preparing our children for the real world.  You know- what and who to look out for, choices vs. consequences, standing for what you believe in and the like.   At some point, we have to let go and find a balance between allowing them to create their own life experiences while serving as a support system-next to or behind them.  Most of us will be delighted to discover that a great deal of our words of wisdom continue to echo in our kids minds and have kept them safe.  So now it’s time to begin to let go and embark on the next chapter of getting to know our children as mature adults.

2 thoughts on “>Letting Go

  1. >Yes so true. There are times when I look at my children and say where are the ones that I raised? At times I have to wonder?? Sometimes with my oldest son I have to end a conversation by hanging up abruptly so as not to cuss his azz out for being lazy and absentminded. He finally does the right thing but on his time and not mind so I'm learning to accept this.

  2. >I think they always have our words in the back of their minds and are often, more deliberate in their actions then we realize. I honestly think they enjoy getting "the reaction" out of us. I've learned that sometimes the less we say, the better. Like you, I'm learning to accept what "is" vs how I'd like things to be.

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