What it's like for your parents when you leave for college

By Randi Mazzella
08/08/2017
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Getting to college has been all about you. But have you ever wondered what it’s like for your parents after you leave?

1. We’re sad

As parents, it’s the closing of a chapter for us, and we need a little time to grieve. Almost two decades ago we brought you home from the hospital and our lives were never the same. We took care of you, fed you, read to you, taught you how to tie your shoes, ride a bike, drive a car ... It’s hard to say goodbye. Yes, there will be tears when we say goodbye, and you might even cry, too.

2. We worry

It’s hard not to worry. We used to know a lot about where you were and with whom. Now we have no idea what time you woke up or what time you went to bed (or even if you slept in your own room last night). We worry that we didn’t teach you how to take care of yourself. Are you eating well and getting enough sleep? Do you know how much cold medicine to take when you’re sick? Are you remembering to walk home with a friend when you leave the library in the dark? Are you being careful at parties — not binge-drinking or leaving your glass unattended? It’s scary to think of you out there on your own.

3. We miss you

We miss hearing your footsteps walking down the stairs when you wake up at noon and make breakfast. We miss sitting on the sidelines at your soccer games. We miss listening to you talk about your day when you get home from school. We even miss the piles of laundry you left in your room. In fact, feel free to bring tons of dirty clothes when you come home for break!

4. We’re curious

We wonder what you’re up to. Do you like your classes? Have you made friends? How’s the food? What do you do on the weekends? We want to know everything you’re up to and what your college experience is like. We would love to hear your voice, but if you don’t feel like talking, just send us some quick texts. We don’t want to pry, but we’re interested in everything you want to share with us.

5. We’re excited

College is HUGE! It’s where you decide what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Since you were little, you were asked what you want to be when you grow up — and now we get to find out. We’re excited for you to find your passion. We’re looking forward to you meeting interesting new people and for you to introduce them to us. We want you to have a great time, while also being safe and responsible.

6. We’re proud

Whether we display it with a bumper sticker or announce it on social media, or just quietly mention it at a BBQ with friends, we are SO proud of you! Proud of the hard work and effort you displayed in high school. You put yourself out there studying, playing sports, being a member of a club, or volunteering, and your determination paid off. It doesn’t matter if you’re attending your first-choice school or your fifteenth; we’re awed by your accomplishments and really hope you know that.

7. We’re ready to make some changes, too

Things are going to be different with you at college. Home is going to be different. But don’t worry about us. Believe it or not, before we were your parents, we were people with dreams, goals, and interests. We may have put some of these things on hold, but now we’re ready to embark on our journey. Maybe we’ll travel, or take a class, or get a new job. Whatever it is, we’re excited to tell you about the new things we’re doing. So when you get us on the phone, don’t forget to ask what we’ve been up to.

Just like it takes time to adjust to college life, it also takes time for parents to adjust to having a kid in college. In fact, just saying our kids are in college can be tough at first because it sounds so old. But, we’re ready to embark on this next chapter, just like you.

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About the author

Randi Mazzella

Randi is a freelance writer and mother of three. She has written extensively about teen life and the college admissions process. Her work has appeared online and in print publications including TeenLife, Your Teen, Raising Teens, About.com, and Grown and Flown. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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