Son leaving for college

Mary214June 13, 2012

Hello. I'm new here and hope to get some suggestions, tips and support on how to say goodbye to my 17 y.o. son when he leaves for college at the end of this summer. He initially didn't want to go away, but the local community college credits wouldn't transfer to the larger colleges. So, he made the decision to go away. He seems quite happy about it and eager to experience college life. He and I have always been close, and honestly he's never been away from home, so this will be a huge adjustment for everyone. I am divorced and also have another son who will be 15 this summer. It's going to be difficult to leave my older son, and I have already shed more than a few tears, and he's still home! The college is about 6 hours away!! I am divorced, and my ex and I are able to tolerate each other, but I can't depend on him for emotional support. I have suggested to my son that his dad take him up to college when the day comes, but my son said he wants me to go as well. I honestly don't know how I will do this, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi Mary214!
Having had two children leave home to pursue college and employment, I understand your sadness and uncertainty. You are wise to expect a time of transition for all three of you. But, know that you will adjust as all moms and dads eventually do. During my time at Focus on the Family, I came across a book that you may find really helpful to you during this season of your life. It's called,"Give Them Wings" by Carol Kuykendall. Remember, this is what parenting up to this point has been all about....raising them to live independent of you. Hard stuff...and yet it's very fulfilling to see your children become fine young adults. I believe you can be strong for your son and go see him off to college. I'll be praying for you, Mary214!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 4:39PM
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I just kept telling myself that this departure to college and growing independence was what I had worked for all these many years. This is being successful. This is working. This is what we all need. This is success.....

It is hard, no doubt about it. But it is also exciting. So now start planning for an easy transition. Be sure he knows how to do laundry. At my university, all the freshman boys wore pink underwear. I would sit in the laundromat waiting for my laundry to finish, and every fall watch awe struck freshmen pull their pink underwear out of the washing machine along with the college red sweatshirt. All the school sweatshirts were red, and thus the pink underwear!

Also, find some twin extra long sheets for him, and create a kit of laundry stuff and first aid stuff, including what he should take if he catches a bad cold or has an allergic reaction to the gunk in the air up there.

Call the university and ask whose ATM is located ON their campus. Then open a joint banking account for him there early enough to receive his blank checks and ATM card before he leaves.

He will be walking to campus and to classes in rain (and snow???) So be sure he has some kind of weather clothing in the way of shoes and an umbrella or rain coat.

Assuming he will be living in a dorm and it is allowed, buy him one of those little refrigerators (unless his roommate is already bringing one). Send him up with a set of silverware and a plate and bowl and mug for feeding himself in his room. A cheap, tiny microwave might be good too. The dorm rooms seem to have only a bed or kitchen type chair you can sit on to study. Buy him one of those bed pillows that looks like the back of an easy chair with arms to help him snuggle in for study sessions. You can find them at Target, Sears, BB&B, etc.

The day he leaves or the day before, mail him a care package of his favorite cookies and snacks so that it will arrive the day after you deposit him there.

I always called my daughter on Sunday evenings. I heard about the weekend fun and about the school week ahead. I offered lots of dating and socializing input then, and hopefully it helped her adjust and stay on an even keel.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Thanks so much girlnextdoor and sheilajoyce. I will definitely check out that book, as I enjoy reading, and it sounds like it'd be very helpful. Sheilajoyce, I never would have thought about sending a care package snack so that it arrives shortly after I leave. That was a great suggestion.

Luckily, my son does know how to do laundry and does a fine job of it. However, part of his graduation gift bag is laundry reminders typed up on a spiral index card holder.

Regarding calling, would you suggest I let my son set the schedule with that? In other words, should I wait for him to call me? My brother said that he did the Sunday phone calls too because it gave them lots to talk about.

Thanks again for your helpful suggestions, ladies. I really appreciate them!


    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Regarding calling, would you suggest I let my son set the schedule with that? In other words, should I wait for him to call me? My brother said that he did the Sunday phone calls too because it gave them lots to talk about.

I think whether or not to call your child or let them call you depends on the kid. It worked best for my son to call us, and he usually would call us once a week, sometimes more if there was a reason. My daughter, on the other hand, is not one to call or email. It would have worked out better if we had set a regular calling time to talk to her. Fortunately she was close enough (2 hours) that we could drive up and take her to lunch sometimes.

Sorry, I have no advice regarding how to jointly go with your ex to take your son off to school. But I hope whatever you decide works out well.

I don't know if what I'm about to do is give advice, probably more like just share how I handled my sadness. My son knows me so very, very well that it would just be impossible to hide my feelings. I went ahead and told him that I'd probably cry some over the summer and when he left, but that I was so very proud of him. And I told him that we raise our kids to go off to school, get their education and find the careers they love and have their own families, and not to ever feel guilty about that. I emphasized that even if I cried, I wanted him to make the most of this opportunity and enjoy his time at school. My family had been through some tough times in the months leading up to my son's freshman year in college, because a family member was badly injured. My son was my biggest cheerleader, encourager and both my right arm and my left during that time. So I felt that he really needed to know that I wanted him to move to the dorm and live his own life, no matter how much I cried.

I don't know if that's something you might want to talk to your son about or not. If your son is particularly supportive of you and protective because you're a single mom, then that may be a talk you want to have.

I hope everything works out well for all of you!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 11:15PM
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My son just finished his freshman year away at college, so BTDT. The hardest part was saying goodbye in August. After that, my mindset was 'he is away at summer camp and will be back' because they do return for school breaks. He was home in October, all December, April, and now for the summer.

In addition to phone calls, you might want to consider Skype so you can see each other (and he can hold up his laptop to show you his room).

A great website for all things college related is - they have a subsection called 'Parents Forum' just for us. Incredible advice for what to pack (and a whole thread on what NOT to, even better).

Sounds like you have a great kid, he will do fine, and so will you.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:26AM
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I recently posted "getting ready for the empty nest." Well my daughter has one more year of school left and then she wants to go away to college. I am getting a taste of this already as she is spending 6 weeks living on campus right here in town for a summer program. I never realized how much I depended on her for company. I am divorced and have no family in this state, let alone the same town. I was always very close to my mother and miss her also. I left home once when I was young to explore another city. I stayed one year and had to come home. I now know how my mother felt when I left. I've been going out to dinner once a week with friends and it helped. I miss going places with her, washing her clothes and watching tv with her. It didn't take much to make me happy. She has her own friends, works part-time, but just knowing she will be back home at the end of the day was enough for me. I hate the thought of being all alone, expecially over the winter.
I don't really have much advice for you, but I know how it feels. I've shed plenty of tears. I hope to go visit my family next week to get away and it gives me something to look forward too. Hang in there. They keep telling me it will get better.....

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 2:58PM
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Like you my son and I have been alone most of his life. I recently took him 1200 miles away to college. There's a lot of good advice here and the only thing I would add about communication is try to adjust to his preferences. Some of the stress for me eased up when I accepted we'd connect more by texting. It's really not so bad even if they're often 1 or 2 word answers. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 10:39PM
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"Luckily, my son does know how to do laundry and does a fine job of it."

Congratulations! It sounds like you have done a good job with this son.

The other suggestions are good and the only other thing I would add is to buy him a camera before he leaves (birthday? and ask him to send pics now and again.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:18PM
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