princeton picFor parents who are dropping off their child at college this week, congratulations!  And good luck!  It’s not an easy time for the parents, or the child, as Barnard College president Debora Spar explains:

Sending a child to college is a traumatic event. At least it was for me several years ago, when my husband and I bundled up our eldest and lugged all of his worldly possessions up five flights of very hot steps. Even though he was going “away” to Harvard, a place where I’d spent 23 years of my life and a place that was literally across the street from my husband’s office, even though he had been completely unbearable for the three months leading up to the blessed event and even though we had two other children left at home, it was traumatic. I cried the moment we walked out of the Yard, and hovered by the phone for the next three days.

He survived, of course, and ultimately so did I. But I still stand by the depth of my trauma. Indeed, I revisited it a few years ago with son number two — when I was again a certifiable wreck; and am looking forward to repeating my performance next year with my daughter, when I promise to fall apart completely.


Spar provides this bit of advice:

Your job as parents, I believe, is to support your children as they begin these new lives, even if they make choices and pursue options that may not be the ones that you had advised, or hoped for them. Your job is to let them walk along the many paths that they will find here, and to hold their hands when, inevitably, they stumble a bit, or turn back, or leap a little too blindly ahead. It’s kind of like when they were first learning to walk — only harder.