Parents Living with Teens article commentary by Lisa Cooley
Did they get it right?
My experience with Eli leaving for college bore no resemblance whatsoever to this author's experience. And that's OK.
While it is true that having a kid in college means saying goodbye over and over again, Eli is by no means "not at home" when he is here. After a difficult semester of missing us and observing many collegial ridicularities, he is home willingly and happily, and his same old self. We share him with his girlfriend, but that has only meant expanding our family by one, not losing him to someone else.
I was a bucket of tears all day long when we left him at school. I went back to where we were staying and absolutely dissolved. It felt like grief -- compounded by the fact that he was really sad, too. I probably did it all wrong, but my parenting style has always been seat of the pants, more coming from who I am than what is perceived as the right thing to do.
Francie (15) told me yesterday that I'll probably not have any emotional reaction to her leaving, being used to it. I told her in no uncertain terms that I fully expect my head to explode.
You gotta just be yourself. That's the best thing for your kids, I think, in the long run. Exposing vulnerabilities, moodiness, weakness....I don't see a down-side.
What has pulled me through has been his increasing enjoyment of college, and my own continued work. Skype has helped a lot. I didn't think it would -- I thought seeing his face would only make me feel more keenly the fact that he isn't here. But through the Skype screen he is still funny, relaxed, cheerful and he still goes off on computer science stuff that leaves me behind, to the point where I glance at the clock and wonder how much longer I have to pay attention.
It still hurts that he isn't still here all the time. But it hurts less. I don't cry every time I think about him, which I did all of September and October. (I know this is making me sound like an extreme nutjob -- I'm just saying, my response to him leaving comes from who I am and my nutjob nature is well-documented.)
But then again, you and your family probably don't relate at all. And that's ok. Don't worry about the shoulds. Do what you can.