Who Are Those Strange People and Why Are They Taking My Daughter Away From Me?
Your kids are going off to college and it's getting to you right smack in your gut. Or maybe you just can't fall asleep at night. You were so excited when they got their college acceptance letters, but now you are feeling something entirely different.
I can relate totally. I remember when I dropped my daughter off at college and looked at those strange buildings and new people and thought, "Who are those people and why are they taking my daughter away from me?" No kidding. It felt to me like my daughter was being kidnapped and that as a good mother I should rescue her from these strange surroundings and take her back home with me. It was going to be my secret -- in only my head -- of course. I was going to return a few hours after dropping her off and rescue her. We would flee from this strange land and return home to safety.
My daughter was very happy and excited about meeting new friends and decorating her new room. Believe me when I tell you that I scanned her facial expressions and body language to see if she was feeling otherwise. Nope. There were no signs of any discontent. I had, at this point, to examine my own feelings. I learned a great deal and here is what I would like to share with fellow mamas and papas:
Think: They are not necessarily feeling the same level of separation anxiety that you are... Rather Than: Your feelings and their feelings are one and the same.
Think: This is an exciting new beginning for them... Rather Than: They are experiencing a deep sense of loss.
Think: They will settle in quickly. They are in the good and plentiful company of all kinds of kids in the same boat... Rather Than: They are alone in a sea of kids who will become quick friends and ignore your poor child.
Think: You are entering a new phase of your relationship with your child... Rather Than: Your relationship is over.
Think: What an exciting new journey we are all embarking on... Rather Than:.Where on earth am I leaving my child and how did I ever agree to this?
Trust me. I've been there. And the child who graduates from college is even more delightful than the one who left home four years earlier. If you don't trust me, ask my daughter.
What's going through your mind as you're helping your teen pack for college?
Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.