July 31, 2018 2 Comments

I love college students. They are in such an amazing time of life. They finally get to focus their studies and work toward the vision they have for their future. Many college students will live away from their parents for the first time. They will develop new friendships, question the way they have done things in the past, and be exposed to new ideas. They will become more of who they are meant to be.

The parent of a college student will also go through lots of changes. Being a parent of a college student is different… very, very different. I will talk more about this adjustment next week.

For now, consider this analogy:

Think back to placing your baby in a car seat for the first time. (It’s okay to cry!)

  • Remember, the car seat had to be rear-facing in the back seat.
  • Months later, the car seat shifts to be front facing in the back seat.
  • Eventually, baby graduates to a toddler seat, and then a booster seat.
  • As a young child, the child learns to fasten his own seatbelt.
  • At twelve years old a child can ride in the front seat next to you.
  • Then at 15, a really big step happens - the drivers permit!!!  They get to drive and you get to sit in the front seat next to them as they take left turns and right turns. You are the wise guide helping them learn to drive and manage this world new world from a new perspective.
  • Finally, at 16 they can drive on their own, WITHOUT you in the car. (So scary!)

Why am I talking about driving in a post about parenting a college student?

Because I want you to see that you have already successfully been through a significant process of letting go. You were fully in charge of your infant in the car, and then slowly, over time, you provided space and opportunity for your child to grow up and take the wheel.

Launching for college is another scary experience of letting go.

Sending kids off to college hurts. Don’t hold back your tears! These tears honor the life-long relationship between you and your now-an-adult child. They honor the highest highs, the lowest lows, and all the normal days in between. They honor connection and growth and memories.

As parents, it is easy to assume that our kids know how proud we are of them, or how much we adore them because of all the work we put into raising them.

I encourage you to take nothing for granted. Put into words how much you love them and adore them. If there are hurts between you, be intentional about forgiveness. This is a season to clean the slate and start new.  Dream together and affirm all the good you want for them in the future.

Every parent will experience this season differently. Keep in mind, it is just as much a milestone for the parents as it is for the child.

How do you want to honor this milestone for your child?

  • Write a letter?
  • Have a special family dinner?
  • Give a special gift?

  • How will you honor this milestone of yours?

  • Spend some time journaling.
  • Host an evening with some of your friends experiencing the same milestone and share stories with each other.
  • Go somewhere special with your spouse and talk through the parenting years.

  • Last fall, we moved our youngest child, Jack, into his freshman dorm. After saying goodbye, Jamey and I drove to Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. We sat on the expansive patio and cried while watching the sunset over the mountains. It was the end of a whole season of parenting.



    Even if your child is staying in town for college, be intentional about marking this special event.

    Next week, I’ll talk about the season AFTER launching your college-age child. For now, take some time to reflect on all you have invested to get to this point in your life.

    What do you regret?

    What do you celebrate?


    Be Comforted

    Weighting Comforts

    2 Responses


    August 01, 2018

    I so appreciate this beautiful post. We are preparing to send our oldest son off to college next month. Considering getting him a weighted blanket as I think it we’ll help bring comfort in a time if need. Looking forward to your next post about helping parents with this “new normal”. Maybe I should get a blanket for me too!

    Laura Gonzalez
    Laura Gonzalez

    August 01, 2018

    Such incredible timing with our son leaving for Basic Training in 5 days. He will be across the country and almost inaccessible for a while and it’s all so new for us! He is our first child to leave home and so your words really spoke to my heart. Thank you. ♡

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