The Epilogue of NO REGRETS PARENTING is all about the college parenting experience, so I felt uniquely qualified to comment on the recent NYT Motherlode piece on letting go when kids leave for college. A timely topic as 18-year olds around the country start packing.
Here’s the link to the Motherlode post, followed by my published comment in the NYT that follows the posting:
The joy of parenting college (and beyond) kids is experiencing the maturation of our relationship. With less time spent choreographing and chauffeuring, setting boundaries and preaching, we now are privileged to become adult friends to our kids. If we’ve done it right the first 18 years, our kids will have come to trust us and value our opinions – even if they never admit it to us or even to themselves. Now almost-launched, their issues are bigger and more complicated. Being a part of their decision-making process now, if only to hear what they’ve decided and how it turned out, is the reward for a job well done up till now.
Daily texts or calls aren’t signs of an uncut cord; they’re signs of an ongoing, growing new level of friendship. Frequent visits home for vacation mean you’ve created a home worth returning to. Of course we must be smart about not coddling college kids or reverting to previous patterns of dependence – but if we use the same sound parenting intuition that got us this far, we’ll know when to back off, which issues to let go, and how far is too far in helping out.
Relish this new place in your kids’ lives – it, too, goes by fast. For a look into the future beyond college, here’s a recent guest post on Motherlode: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/my-son-the-groom/