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  • Writer's pictureChris Williams

Ian leaves for his first year in college in 43 days (but who's counting?).

My BFF is dropping her son off at college on Saturday and other friends have either dropped their kids off or about too. So many emotions, questions, concern, unknowns, stories and tears are being shared. I don't have all the answers as each of our experiences are different. However, I do understand and sympathize with all the emotions we are all experiencing as parents. I have been there, right where each of you are right now….it was 4 years ago. I am going through it again but this time, Ian is leaving for college. I am so excited for him for so many different reasons, but most of all, my relationship with him is finally free to continue to grow in a much different way now without any outside influences, and as he becomes an adult, he will see life and his relationship with me in a much different way.

Will I cry when I drop him off at CWU, probably. Will I be waiting for that first text/phone call from him with an update on how his first few weeks are going? Absolutely! And I will be counting the days until he comes home to visit just like the rest of you will be. But I also know, he will probably come home and see his girlfriend first, before he even thinks about seeing me :) Trust this as I have already experienced it over the last 4 years…LOL.

I offer some tips for easing the transition:

1. Prepare yourself to experience a range of sometimes contradictory emotions, from sorrow to relief, from loss to exhilaration. The process of having children leave home is a bittersweet experience that spans the entire emotional spectrum for both the parents and the child.

2. Be respectful of and patient with your kid's mixed feelings: Young adults who are preparing to leave manage their emotions in a variety of ways, from acting as though they’ve already left to acting as though they’re never going to leave. They are as entitled to their own spectrum of feelings as you are.

3. Speak with your son or daughter about the kind of contact that you would like to have so that you can continue to convey love and care while acknowledging the necessary separation. Just be prepared that you may not hear from them as much as you would like. They are busy living their new life and you need to be living yours too!

4. If you are married, talk to your spouse about how the two of you would like to connect or reconnect now that your relationship is no longer about raising kids.

5. And no matter how bereft you feel in those first few days or weeks, or at odd moments in the grocery store when you pass by your son or daughter’s favorite snack food that you no longer need to stock up on, take comfort in the knowledge that this change is what you’ve been working so long and so hard for.

Stay tuned for info on my next workshop: Empty nest is only one of the issues. The other is about empty “next.”

Finalizing the details and more info to come soon!

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