Leaving for college

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  August 4, 2009 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Dear Barbara,

In two weeks we are sending our first daughter to college.

She is the oldest of our four children. We are a very close family and my daughter has an especially close bond with her younger sisters and brother.(15, 12, and 7)
Although we are very excited for her new opportunity, we are all naturally having anxiety with this separation.

Could you kindly share any advice on this upcoming transition?

From: Lisa, Belmont

Hi Lisa,

I’d suggest finding a way to ritualize her departure. For instance, asking everyone in the family, including you and your daughter, to write down what they would like to do to mark the occasion of her leaving. Presumably, each person’s idea not only will reflect something unique about their relationship to her but also will reflect your family’s personality and values.

Then you can look at the possibilities together, as a group, and choose, or it could be your daughter’s decision to choose. Maybe you will be able to do more than one of the ideas -- maybe you do a week’s worth of ideas, one each night for the week before she leaves. Maybe smaller groupings surface, for instance, the sisters have a sleep-over in her room.

The possibilities don’t have to be expensive or elaborate: An evening looking at her baby pictures, or family videos, followed by ice cream; a game night. Keep it light and have everyone write a limerick in her honor. Perhaps each person chooses a belonging that’s unique to them for her to take away as a reminder of the best (and most annoying?) things she’s left at home. A pair of smelly socks come to mind. Perhaps she has some small personal item to leave for each person.

The point is to commemorate the event in a way that honors the pride you all have in her and your wishes for her success and happiness at the same time that you acknowledge (but don’t over do) the hole her absence will leave. One mother and father I know hung streamers on all the interior doorways the night before their daughter was leaving for college. It was silly and over the top and made everyone laugh but it was also bittersweet: it was what they had done for birthdays when their children were young.

One of the lovely things about ritualizing this event is that your younger children can look forward to something similar for their departures.


I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

1 comments so far...
  1. I finished school two years ago and my younger sister just graduated (my sisters and i are also very close). May i suggest helping your daughter pack a few days in advance. This will help kill some of the stress and she will be able to enjoy her last few days with her siblings. If you can take the sibs along to move her in, i'm sure it would be great for them to see where she will be living. if not, perhaps she or you can take a few photos so the other kids know her surroundings. This is silly, but my mom always had a copy of our college class schedules up on her mom bulletin board. I think it helped her and my sisters feel a little more connected.

    Posted by Journeygirl August 4, 09 10:27 AM
 
1 comments so far...
  1. I finished school two years ago and my younger sister just graduated (my sisters and i are also very close). May i suggest helping your daughter pack a few days in advance. This will help kill some of the stress and she will be able to enjoy her last few days with her siblings. If you can take the sibs along to move her in, i'm sure it would be great for them to see where she will be living. if not, perhaps she or you can take a few photos so the other kids know her surroundings. This is silly, but my mom always had a copy of our college class schedules up on her mom bulletin board. I think it helped her and my sisters feel a little more connected.

    Posted by Journeygirl August 4, 09 10:27 AM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives