Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the tag “College parents”

Almost doesn’t Count – College Edition

Gone to College.

It’s that time of year,  primary school starting, college students leaving and families grappling with big changes in the household.

We’ve got one son in the final semester of his senior year (graduating early, oh yes he is!) our middle boy leaving for his freshman year at PLNU and our third son entering his sophomore year of high school.

The third child, is the main reason for this post. I’ve already reminded you well meaning folk of what not to say to parents of college students in my post “Five Thing Not To say To College Parents.”

Turns out we’ve got more “don’t say its” regarding only having one child left at home. I thought we covered this in bullet number two in my 5 Things post. Go ahead and click the link above, I’ll wait.

Apparently now, people have taken it to the other extreme.

I cannot tell you the numbers of people that comment on how the empty nest is in sight. People encouraging us to” just hold on, the end is near!” Telling us we’ve “almost made it”, that we “only have one more to get behind us!” “So you’re not quite empty nesters, but pretty much!”

And sadly they say it in front of our son.

See here’s the thing, we have 3 1/2 more years to enjoy him while he’s under our roof.

Three-and-a-half.

I know of no scenario where 3 1/2 years is “almost”. Almost refers to situations of immediacy like “I’m almost over this cold, the chicken is almost done”, and the ever popular “I almost hit the target with the grenade.”

I guess we’re just different, but we are grateful for the gift of the next years to focus on our third child. Due to birth order, he’s been last to do everything. We certainly don’t plan to short change him now.

In the 5 things post I suggest if you don’t know what to say, that it might be best not say anything at all. I further suggest that you simply ask yourself what it would feel like if someone referred to you as “something to endure or get through” and then again, don’t say anything at all.

Go easy on us college parents, separation is one of the most challenging things we as humans endure.

 

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5 Things Not to Say to College Parents

This is from last year. Update: Our son is heading out in two days for his sophomore year of college. It simply doesn’t feel that much easier this year. So proud of him, but I don’t look forward to saying goodbye again.
The end of August brings the last lazy days of summer, a temperature drop and the bittersweet start of school. For college parents, it can be an especially trying time. Having just moved our oldest into the dorm at a University, I can say that the process couldn’t have gone any better and yet it was one of the worst days of my life.
I’m so happy for and proud of our son and yet I wake up every morning, with a hollow place in my gut. Something just isn’t right around the homestead. Somebody is missing.
Over the summer, strangers and other college parents were full of unsolicited advice. Kind of like a pregnancy, people touch your stomach if they want to and offer home grown advice at will. After talking with countless parents, I know exactly what I won’t be saying to parents whose children are going to college.
Five things not to say to college parents:
  • “You’ve done all you can.”  Right away the parental mind starts listing shortcomings and things you wish you had taught your child. It also implies the parenting process is over. Instead, verbally applaud the parent for all they’ve done to help prepare their child for higher learning and this next adventure in family life.
  • “At least you have more children at home.” This implies that the children are interchangeable and as long as you’ve got someone at home, you’ll be fine. Not true. Every family dynamic changes when a child leaves. Instead, inquire as to how the children at home are coping with the changes in their family.
  • “You shouldn’t be sad, you should be celebrating!” No one wants to be told how to feel or be reprimanded for feeling sad. After working through your grief, and it is a grieving process, you’ll be ready to celebrate the great things your child is doing. Expecting an all out family celebration to occur from day one can come across as inappropriate to the child who moved out. Instead, offer understanding that you’re certain they are proud of their child’s accomplishments but acknowledge that it must be sad as well.
  • “They are only 1, or 2 or 3 or (insert number) hours away.” Maybe this a little dramatic but it’s true; if your child moves next door, they still aren’t living with you and the dynamic in your home changes. This feels like a loss and can still require a grieving process. Location does not make everything okay. Instead, ask when the next visit with their child will be, encouraging the parent to look forward to that.
  • “You need to let them go.” Feeling sad doesn’t mean you aren’t letting them go. It means you simply love your child deeply and are sad that things are changing. Instead, acknowledge how are hard change can be.
As with any situation, if you don’t know what to say, it might be best not to say anything at all. Offer a smile of understanding and maybe a hug, just don’t rub the belly!
 
It’s important to note that my friends have been glorious and supportive and wonderful. They have held me up in prayer and cried and rejoiced with me. In short, they have been a rock and I don’t know what I would do without them. The above advice is predominantly from strangers. 

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