5 Parental Tips for Dealing with College Separation Anxiety

college separation anxiety

Winter scene outside my daughter’s dorm.

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So you’ve just dropped off your child at college for the first time and are feeling the pain.  That final hug was a lot more difficult than you had originally expected. 

Your first-born is now among people you do not know, in a completely foreign environment, and you feel the anxiety and feel helpless as a parent. 

My eldest daughter left for college for the first time last August.  The trauma of her exodus was detailed in this post.   Ironically, today we just returned from bringing her back to college after her 5-week holiday break at home.  Let’s just say that it was a whole lot easier dropping her off this time. 

For those of you who have already gone through this college separation anxiety, congratulations on dealing with it and moving onto another phase of your lives.  After having gone through this heart-wrenching experience, I think I can help out my fellow brethren deal with being separated from their child for possibly the first time.  There are certainly ways to deal with anxiety to make this transition easier, for both you, and your child.

1. Communicate, but give them space.

As a parent, it is important to reach a happy medium with your child, in terms of communication, after they are at their college home. Understanding that your child needs space from you is something that every parent must realize.

Your child has been looking forward to this time of independence, so you must honor that independence and limit the correspondence. Let your child dictate how much they want to call, email, or skype with you.  Of utmost importance is to let your child know that you will always be there for them, just as you have been for the previous 18 years of their life.

2. Visit the College Store.

OK, I know that you are paying big tuition bills already, so shelling out any other dough to the school can be tough. But, I am telling you that if you go to the college store and buy a sweatshirt, or a mug for your morning coffee, it will help.  How, you might say?

It helps you feel closer to your child. Each morning when you drink that cup of coffee, with the mug from the college, you will think of your child and will feel a closeness to them.  Every time I wear the shirts I bought at my daughter’s college store or wear the hat that she gave me for Christmas, I feel closer to her. 

You might say, doesn’t that make it more difficult and remind you more of the distance between you?  Not for me.  It does just the opposite. You are showing pride in their college and this will reflect not only on you, but also on your child. 

If your child knows that you are proud of their college choice, it will help them deal with their own college separation anxiety. Don’t underestimate the simple act of making some purchases at the college store.  Surprisingly, it really helps soothe those pangs of separation anxiety.

3. Attend Parents Weekend.

We attended Parents Weekend at the end of October. It is a very popular time for the college and it allows the parents to attend a class, if desired.  But, more importantly, it’s a time to see your child, possibly for the first time since that emotional departure. And you also get a chance to get to know their roommates. 

At the same time, you have a chance to meet with other parents and talk about what it’s like living away from your children. You will quickly learn that almost all parents share this feeling of separation and it is a common thread in conversation.

4. Subscribe to the College Newspaper.

This may sound simple but one of the hardest things for us, as parents, was the not-knowing.  Not being able to know every step our child was taking, or what was happening with her in the college environment.  Subscribing to the college newspaper has allowed us to feel more a part of our daughter’s life by allowing us to read what is going on, at a certain point in time, at the college. 

The articles are written by the students so it allows us to hear what their feelings are and what issues they are faced with at the college.  It also helps us when we speak with our daughter because we can talk about the issues that are prevalent at the college.  This small step will help take away some of the feelings of separation and will allow you to feel closer to your child.

5. Visit, if needed, and if possible.

This may be difficult for some parents, especially if your child is across the country, or potentially in another country. About a month into her first college semester, my daughter came down with symptoms that were eerily similar to the H1N1 virus. There were already students at her school that were being quarantined, or separated from the other students, due to the virus. 

My daughter was extremely worried that she was coming down with the virus but, more importantly to her, she was concerned that it would affect her schoolwork.  She was worried about falling behind in her classwork and she had just started her college career.  After speaking with her on the phone, my wife drove up there and brought her to the infirmary for tests. 

As it turned out, she didn’t have the virus, and was over the symptoms in a few days.  My daughter’s college is about two hours away from our house, in a neighboring state.  So being able to drive to visit her, at the drop of a hat, is convenient. Having my wife there, if only for a few hours, was tremendous for both of them. 

It helped my daughter deal with this short-term illness, and it helped us a lot because one of us was able to be there for her.  I can’t stress enough how happy we are that we are only a couple of hours away from my daughter.  My daughter was accepted at colleges halfway across the country but, luckily, she was accepted into her first-choice college, which is within driving distance from our house.  If we couldn’t be with her at that time, the separation anxiety would’ve been extremely tough to deal with.

If you are contemplating dropping your child off at college someday, try to learn from others who have already had to deal with this life transition.  College separation anxiety is tough but there are actionable steps that you can take to minimize the anxiety of being away from your angel.  If you take part in the college experience, albeit remotely, and show your child that you have pride in their college, it will certainly help you deal with the anguish that comes from separation anxiety. 

Communicate, but know that this is their time of independence from you. Let them dictate how much they want to keep in touch.  Most importantly, when they do come home on breaks, and in the summer, welcome them home with open arms. 

It takes a little time, but those feelings of college separation anxiety will decrease. Implement these various ways to deal with anxiety and, believe me, it will help a lot. It’s really tough at first but, in time, you will be able to emotionally deal with this new phase of your life.

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Comments

  1. says

    This is a beautifully written piece, Bob, that talks from the heart. I remember reading your first post on the subject and thinking the same. I can feel how much your daughter means to you and how painful it is to be apart from her. So, it’s awesome then that at the same time you’ve chosen to be so constructive about your experience and that you’re putting it out there and sharing it with others.

    I salute you, sir!
    .-= Christine Livingston´s last blog ..3 lessons on work and life from walking 10 miles in the snow =-.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Thanks Christine,
      Yes, you are correct. She means a lot to me, as does my youngest. I just hope this post helps parent who have to go through this in the future. It does get a lot easier with time and with these tips…

      Best,
      Bob

  2. says

    What a lovely post, Bob! I appreciate the tenderness you’re showing in this very helpful piece. Number 2 and 4 are tips that could only come from a loving parent who’s already been through it.

    I love that you point out that the first time we let them go is the hardest. I imagine them doing a lot of growing up and spreading their independence wings while they’re gone and I bet they’re so much smarter and more grown up the second time they leave home.

    This prepares me for the next 15 years :-) Thanks!

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Belinda,
      The time will fly by. The best part about my daughter being at college is the fact that she absolutely loves it there. The whole floor of her dorm are like family. When we brought her back at least 5 or 6 kids came by within about 2 minutes, hugged her, and welcomed her back. And, on top if it, the college is rated one of the best in the country and she is doing tremendously with her grades (which is not surprising). Thanks for reading Belinda.

      Best,
      Bob

  3. says

    Beautiful post Bob, that will be so useful for parents facing this situation. I remember the day I went to uni (I am the oldest and was the first of my siblings) … so many tears!

    • Bob Bessette says

      Yes, there were tears Jen. When I gave my daughter that last hug I lost it. I was thinking I’d hold up right before that embrace. She is very happy at her college home so it’s easier for us. We just left her off the other day and won’t see her for 7 weeks now until her next break. But it has gotten a whole lot easier even though we still miss her a lot.

      Best,
      Bob

  4. says

    hi bob,
    loved this post.
    it brought fond memories.
    also, while reading i was thinking of how I felt when my 3 yr old son started school in september and i can relate to this article although not in its entirety because a) my son is still young b) he comes home everyday.
    I loved the points raised and would look into practicing numbers 3(pta meetings) and 4.
    I have a long way to go and i still have a lot to learn.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    p.s. bob you mentioned you are studying for your 3rd degree???? what are the degrees if you dont mind me asking
    take care then!!!
    .-= ayo´s last blog ..What Can You Do To Improve Your Relationships? =-.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Ayo,
      Thanks for reading my post. I think it will help out any parent who has to go through this ordeal. Yes, it is an ordeal, but it is a lot easier if you know that your child is happy. I have a BS in Geology and a Masters in Geophysics. In a former life I was a research scientist working for the U.S. Air Force. This degree is a Bachelors in Information Technology and I just started my last class yesterday. I never got the degree but have been working in IT for the past 20 years. Thanks for asking…

      Best,
      Bob

  5. Lianna Bessette says

    I enjoyed this post. It’s interesting for me to see the other side of leaving for college. It was remarkably easy for me to leave due to my summer experience away from home, but it was certainly an adjustment. Of course, I still miss you and the rest of our family. I think that’s a good thing.

    I love you!
    Lianna

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Honey,
      By the way, thanks for taking that awesome picture that I display in this post. It really brings me right to the college. What’s great for us is that it was remarkably easy for you to head off to college. I think the fact that you are in such a great situation there helps us a lot too. You’re getting a top notch education and you are surrounded by other smart, happy kids. And the food actually is somewhat comparable to what your mother makes. :-)

      Love you too!
      Dada

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Laura Lee,
      As I stated in the post that is the #1 communication tip I could give to parents. I know it’s difficult, because you are missing them, but it is necessary.
      Best,
      Bob

  6. says

    Hi Bob,

    I love reading your post! It reminded me of my hug with my mom and dad the day they left me at the university where i studied. It felt like a sharp knife went through me. My dad died 3 years ago and reading your post somehow reminded me of him…Thank you for that
    .-= El Sheila´s last blog ..Spending time alone with my partner =-.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi El Sheila,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. We have had to deal with that anxiety this year and I hope that some parents got something out of dealing with the separation. You may also enjoy this post about my daughter leaving for college for the first time. Thanks for reading and commenting..
      Best,
      Bob

  7. Megan Lyn says

    Hi Bob,
    Thank you so much for posting this. My only son will be heading to college this fall. Thankfully his school is only 147 miles door to door. I often found myself in tears just thinking about not having my “baby” at home every day in a few months’ time. It’s difficult, but I’ll try to follow some of your suggestions on how to cope with my ASAD.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Megan Lyn,
      Good luck with that. You may also want to read the article on my sidebar entitled ‘She left home, bye bye”. It’s about that same experience. Good luck!

      Best,
      Bob

  8. Jennifer says

    I am going through this just now. I am an emotional wreck, can’t eat, can’t sleep…can’t imagine day to day life without my beautiful daughter. It’s supposed to be one of the most natural things in the world- so why can’t I deal with it?

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Jennifer,
      We just dropped my daughter off at college for her sophomore year. It gets much easier the second time around and luckily we are within 2 hours from her college. Has your daughter just left for college or is she a senior in high school and you are worrying about the impending exodus? Believe me, if you take heed in some of the steps that I outline in my post, it will help. It isn’t a solution but it will help for sure. I’d be interested in more details about your situation.

      Best,
      Bob Bessette

  9. Jennifer says

    Hi again,

    She’s just about to leave for University (on the 18th Sept *gulp*). We have spoken about how I *should* behave but I cannot get past the fact that she is leaving. We did a lot of stuff together, I suppose I should’ve prepared myself better for this event, but it always seemed years away. It seems to have arrived too quickly, I just wasn’t prepared for the strength of my feelings.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Jennifer,
      It is very hard. Believe me, I understand. When I hugged her goodbye that first time in her new dorm room, I cried like a baby. I thought I would be able to handle it. I really did but I couldn’t. Make it a point to keep in touch with her but give her some distance. It is also hard for her. Let her dictate how much she wants to communicate and just be there for her when she needs you. Subscribe to the school newspaper as I suggested in the article and to any blogs that are at the school. It will certainly help you. Please read this post as it was written by my daughter and it relates to this same topic. In fact she is now starting to write for a blog at school and we are hoping that she enjoys it.
      One thing I can promise. It gets easier in time and she will come home. It appears that you are both very close to each other which will ensure that she will come home. Please let me know how that first day goes for you either here or use my Contact Me page. I’ll be glad to help you through this as an experienced parent. I’m sure my wife will also chime in if you are looking for a woman’s perspective.

      Best,
      Bob

  10. Kate says

    Jennifer – you are not alone! I just dropped my oldest off at Northeastern in Boston (45 minutes from home). Even though he is close it is still so hard! I am confident that he will do well both socially and academically, so that does help. I do have another son at home (jr. in high school) and am dreading the day that he leaves! After spending the past 18+ years focusing on my children, it is scary to think about what the future holds for me. Raising my 2 wonderful sons has been the happiest period of my life.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your contribution. We are in a similar situation with a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school. I will contact Jennifer to make sure she reads your post (in case she didn’t subscribe to follow-up comments). I’m sure that you have raised two well-rounded, responsible sons. My wife also has focused on raising our children, as I work at a full-time job every day, and with the advent of college, many changes come into play. I’m sure you will do well in your next “life”. You may want to read my post about being an empty nester. Please keep me posted as he goes through his freshman year. By the way, I got my Bachelor’s degree at Northeastern in Boston. I know a lot of changes have taken place there in the past 30 years but I’m proud to be an alum.

      Best,
      Bob

      • Kate says

        Hi,

        So here I am again….so sad to be sending my son back to Northeastern after the holiday break!!! He is already talking about not coming home this summer; he and some friends want to work on Cape Cod for the summer. I am happy for him because I’m sure it will be fun & exciting for him, but sad for me!

        Bob – Northeastern is a great school! My son absolutely loves it.

        • Bob Bessette says

          Hi Kate,
          My daughter is home for another 3 weeks (she has a long break). In fact, one of my daughter’s friends is a sophomore at Northeastern and she is getting together with him this week. It sounds like they go back next week. That is probably due to the quarter system, if they still have quarters at NU. My daughter is also probably not going to be home this summer and she is probably heading to Ireland for the Fall semester abroad next year. So we aren’t sure how much we are going to see her over the next year. Such is life I guess.
          I’m glad that he really likes Northeastern. It has changed so much from what I hear from when I went there in the Dark Ages. Kate, please keep in touch. Us parents have to stick together to deal with these life issues. :-)
          I hope Jennifer checks in again as well. I am wondering how she is doing.

          Best,
          Bob

    • Jennifer says

      Hi Kate- Seems like so many of us are feeling this way. I hope it’s not too hard for you with your son away. My daughter will be going to London (we’re in the UK) on the 18th, not long now. Raising children is such a wonderful job, but having to say goodbye is heartbreaking.

  11. says

    Hi Bob!

    While i was feeling down about my daughter leaving for college next year. I decided to Google Child Separation Anxiety and saw your blog. Well I couldn’t see the screen for a bit because I got so emotional. There are parents that feel this way. As I read on and felt the love for your daughter, I realized that that was exactly how I feel. I am so close to my daughter (17) I don’t know where the years went, I still see her as my little girl. my little girl. I worry about how she will handle the hard times. Thank you for your blog…I feel normal now. :)

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Debbie,
      You know, this is the true beauty of having a blog. I am able to share my feelings with a complete stranger and you are able to relate to what I wrote. Believe it or not, that daughter is home now for two weeks for break. This is her second week home and she is now a sophomore and she is hurting a bit this time from a relationship breakup. It’s great to have her home but she is not herself but I think being home with us is the best thing for her. We still love her as much or more than ever and I still dread when she leaves and goes back to college. I cry every time she leaves. I could never understand those commercials where the parents rejoice when the child leaves and they target that child’s room for a hot tub. I’m never happy when my kid’s leave. I am exactly like my father was, God rest his soul.
      Believe me, you are soooo normal Debbie. All the parents I talk to are sad to see them go. It’s a rite of passage but it is great growth experience for the kids. But having them away from the bubble that is home is tough for us parents. But they will grow immeasurably during this time.
      If you are ever feeling sad and need someone to communicate with just drop me a note at my Contact Me page. I’m still going through college separation anxiety. :-)

      Best,
      Bob

    • Maria says

      My 17 year old grandson that I raised from the age of 2 is off to college in September, and my tears fall at night when I’m alone at the prospect of not having him with me. Afraid of all the negative things we as parents and 2nd time parents don’t want to think about while they are at college. I pray that I’ve taught him to choose wisely and make the right decisions even when he’s pressed to do things he knows are not right. I am happy for him, and am glad he’s only 2 1/2 hours away so I can drive there if needed, but I will miss him terribly and will worry when I can’t reach him or don’t hear from him for a few days. I can only put him in the Lord’s loving hands and pray he is kept safe.

      • Bob Bessette says

        Hi Maria,
        I am partial to your name as my youngest has it. I think that your grandson is very fortunate to have had your guidance for all of these years. Believe me, it is tough to say a temporary goodbye to loved ones when they head off to college. My eldest is now finishing up her junior year and having her close enough to drive to is a great convenience. I know that he will be happy knowing that you are still looking out for him.

        You may want to read this article I wrote about my eldest leaving for college for the first time.

        Best,
        Bob

  12. Bob Aiello says

    Hi Bob;

    Thank you for all the tips. I hope they work. My wife and daughter went to the college for an orientation weekend a couple of months back. Sunday morning and all day Monday and I’ll tell you straight up, I did not do too well.

    We have a young lady that we took in to live with us that was in an abusive relationship at her house. She has been with us for a year but she is also leaving the same day as our daughter. Its gonna be tough

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Bob,
      It is difficult especially at first. My daughter has been in college now for two years and tomorrow she leaves for 4 months abroad in Ireland. Now we won’t even be able to visit her on a whim (she was two hours away). Good luck with your daughter leaving for college. I’m sure you and your wife will get through it well. I have another post which you may be interested in as well. I think if you use the tips detailed in the post on dealing with college separation anxiety you might find that they help a lot. Good luck!

      Best,
      Bob

  13. John B says

    Thanks Bob and everyone who posted. This morning I dropped my oldest off for her freshman year at college, and cried of and on throughout the 8 hour drive home. I thought I was crazy until I got home, googled, found this page and many others, and realized I’m not the only parent that has felt this. I had no idea it would be so hard! One thing I’ve learned from reading the last few hours is to really up the time I spend with her two younger sisters still at home. Another is to use the Internet & texting to stay in touch with her. I missed the chance to visit the college store – I wish I’d thought of that. I’ll ask her to send me a school coffee mug. Lastly, her birthday is coming up – I forgot to ask her what she wants – the perfect excuse to call her in a day or two (her Mom called her tonight, and I think calling EVERY day would be a bit much – much as I want to right now). Thanks again – I don’t feel quite so crazy now. Still very sad, but normal sad.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi John,
      I guess an 8 hour drive is not too far away. My eldest is now in Ireland which is my latest post. So I can’t just get in a car and go see her even if I wanted to. Yes, all of those tips really helped us. Subscribing to the school newspaper is great because we regularly get to see pictures of the college and issues that are facing the students. It really does help to stay in touch.

      You are certainly not alone. And I’m sure your daughter is also having a hard time as well. Thanks for reading… :-)

      Best,
      Bob

      • John B says

        Well, it will be a week tomorrow. I’ve had a great phone chat with her, swapped emails and Facebook postings, and I’m getting used to my new, more remote role in her life. It helps that she’s having a great time and loves her roommates. If she’s having a hard time being away she’s not showing it; but then I’m not really showing her my true feeling either. I don’t want her to feel guilty when she’s done nothing wrong (and everything right).

        I’m also realizing that parenting is not over. On our call she had questions about college, setting schedules, and she needed a few more things mailed that she forgot to pack. She’s still my little girl. I can recall asking my Dad for advice right up until he died. I’d come to respect his judgment and experience, and knew he would always have my best interests at heart. I can see the same relationship forming here – and it’s a good one to have; As good as the “end game” of parenting gets.

        Thanks again Bob, and everyone who posted.

        -JB-

        • Bob Bessette says

          Hey John,
          Great to hear from you. I am going through the exact same thing you are going through but my daughter is in Ireland for her junior year Fall semester abroad. It’s almost like we are doing it all over again because she is so far away. My wife has been skyping with her fairly regularly and she has been a bit homesick. She’s been there for just over a week so it’s a new thing for her not to have friends and family close by.

          What I have found is that my eldest, in particular, has become closer to me over the years. Both of my daughters were what I considered Mama’s girls but I’ve noticed a change in recent years. I can relate to getting advice from my Dad. He passed about a year and a half ago and think of him every day. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things. Check out the post my daughter wrote a while back and this one might interest you which has some quotes from other parents going through what you are going through.

          Keep us updated John.

          Best,
          Bob

  14. Samantha says

    Thank you for this post. It’s good to know this will get better. Where I’m sitting right at this moment, I am seriously OK with him staying home and never leaving. I know in my mind that this is not the right choice but my heart is breaking knowing that my only child will be leaving in 3 days.

    I am sitting here @ 1257a and have been crying for the past hour straight. I have one son who is 17 and will not turn 18 until August 10th. He will already be @ this new school for football practice and will spend his 18th birthday with football coaches and teamates that he has just met. I am having a very hard time with him going away even though I am filled with pride at the same time. He is going to school on a “almost” full scholarship and not just for sports. He is a very mature 17 yr old and I know he will do fine.

    • Bob says

      Hi Samantha,
      Yes it will get better! My first-born is now starting her Senior year in the Fall but our youngest will start her Senior year in high school in the Fall. So we’ll be going through it all again in another year. You may want to read the articles under this category. One is by my daughter telling us how she wants us to behave.

      http://totallyuniquelife.com/category/college/separation-anxiety-college/

      I know it’s tough now but he will become such a mature man as a result of this experience. Congratulations, by the way, on his “almost” full scholarship! That is awesome and it tells me that he is not only a good athlete but it sounds like he is also very intelligent.

      I wrote this article about dropping of our daughter for the first time. It’s sad but you will also get through it! Please feel free to contact me via my Contact Me page if you want to continue the dialog.

      Best,
      Bob

  15. Rallet says

    Thank you for this post. I just dropped off my youngest daughter at college. I feel fortunate that she has her best friend of 15 years with her and she is just a couple hours away. I knew it was going to be hard, but I feel like my heart is breaking and overwhelmed with concern for her safety. She also has a sister 2 years older than her who is living at home and attending a local college. The two of them are very close and it hurts to see them have to be separated too! This is one of the hardest things I have had to do as a parent. I know she will be back, but I have lost not only my baby, but my friend. All three of us girls loved to go shopping, trips, movies, breakfast, etc. I know this is hard for her so I try to be strong and be there when she asks me for help. I know it will get better with time for all of us. I miss her sweet smiling face and silly personality. I am very proud of her!

    Thank you to all of you who have shared your experiences. I know I am not alone ad this is a natural process, just not an easy one.

    Rallet

    • Bob says

      Hi Rallet,
      You haven’t lost her at all and, in time, you will see that you will both grow closer to each other. Be comforted in the fact that she has her best friend with her instead of facing this new adventure on her own. Since you already are close, you will remain close. Just the fact that she is only two hours away will prove out to be a godsend! Our daughter is two hours from us and it has helped so much to be within driving distance. She is a senior now and is closer to us than ever. It’s something we sign up for as parents but it is hard I know! It will get better, believe me…

      Best,
      Bob

  16. John B says

    Hi Rallet,

    I went through this a year ago (see my posts above), and I can tell you the sadness gets better. Much better. Via calls, emails, Facebook and texts my little girl and I have stayed as close as ever. She calls me when she has tough decisions, or sometimes just when she’s bored, and we have long chats. She switched schools in December, and I took Bob’s advice and got to “Family Day” even though it meant a plane flight & Hotel room.It was worth it – her college experience is very different than the one I had.

    So like we call keep saying, hang in there – it’s really gets better pretty fast.
    -JB-

    • Bob says

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your contribution. As you obviously remember, it’s a tough time for us parents. I hope Rallet takes some solace in what you wrote.

      Best,
      Bob

  17. Marie P says

    What do people do when both of us are so sad??? I dropped my daughter off 2 days ago and all of the text messages have been that she is so sad, wants to come home, misses me so much. I know she ultimately doesn’t want to come home but she doesn’t seem to be doing very well. I don’t let her know this but I’m not doing very well either. I feel panicked sometimes that I can’t see her at all, that’s she’s 3.5 hours away and I can’t jump in the car and go to her High School which was 6 minutes away. It has not been a very good experience at all.

    • Bob says

      Hi Marie,
      This exact same thing happened to us when my daughter went to study abroad last Fall (her Junior Fall semester). She was in Ireland so it was 5-6 hours from us on a plane. She didn’t know anyone there and couldn’t get Skype to work inside her dorm room. The strange thing was that she could use it outside the building. So, until we figured that out, she was Skyping with us outside in the cold and she was sad and we were also sad. She didn’t know anyone but within a week or so she got closer to a roommate and once classes started, met some other people there. It turned around for her in a few weeks so I’m sure it will with your daughter.
      Have you considered Skyping with her? It really helped us and my daughter to see a familiar face and talk about what you are both going through. All you need is a camera which we bought for a few bucks (it plugs into the USB port) and simply download the application onto your computers. Very easy to use and it saved us when she was overseas. We also use it when she is two hours away which she is now. Maybe you can plan a trip to the college soon so you can both look forward to seeing each other. 3 1/2 hours is not too far away which is great for both of you.
      Anyway, keep me/us posted on how things are going and it’s not unusual when both the parent and child are sad at this time. It’s not easy for both parties even though for some kids I think they can’t wait to leave home.

      Best,
      Bob

  18. Rebecca says

    I was so happy to find this website. Our son doesn’t leave for college until September but I am already having sleepless nights, crying, and anxiety over him leaving. What makes it worse is he is so busy with sports, school work, other extracurricular activities that require him to be at school two nights a week after bball practice that we barely get to connect with him. I have asked several people about how they handled their child leaving for college and across the board they were happy and excited for their child to leave. I can tell from your posts and others that you share the same feelings I do and that helps tremendously! Thank you so much for this website!

  19. Joe S says

    Great article. Our only child (son) is leaving for college in less than a month. Thankfully he is 7 miles away. I’m a wreck and my wife is not so
    bad. He has been working with me at the office so now everywhere I go I am constantly reminded of him. I can’t stop crying thinking of him not being near me.I can’t stand the pain. I just don’t know what to do. I want to bang my head in hope of the thought of him not being here will subside. It’s 4:20am and I’ve been up for hours.

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Joe,
      I remember 4 years ago myself when we brought my eldest and here we are (deja vu all over again) and we’ll be doing the same with my youngest daughter as she heads off to college in a month. I know it’s tough and I feel your pain but it does get better. In fact, I think your relationship with your son will only strengthen with this phase of your lives.

      Try to follow the tips even though it may be difficult at first. They do need their independence at this time of their lives and I know that you guys will be fine. It is especially tough at first but gets easier believe me Joe!

      Join the club of other parents who have had to drop of children at college. It is tough and I commiserate with you. Please keep me and others who read this blog apprised of how it goes when he heads off to college.

      Best,
      Bob

  20. Bill says

    I just dropped off my eldest son at CU today. We live in PA. All I can do is sit here and wonder where the time went. Was I a good father? Did he listen to me when we talked? Will he try his best? And so many more questions. I can’t jump in a car and pick him up and take him to his favorite pizza place. I know time will help but this flat out stinks!!!

    • Bob Bessette says

      Hi Bill,
      I am up early with my wife as I write this to move my youngest into college for the first time. I just finished hand writing a note to her that she can read after we leave her off in a few hours. I’ve been crying already this morning as I wrote that letter.
      This is basically the life of a parent as I had to deal with it in this article almost exactly 4 years ago today. My eldest is now graduated and, believe it or not, coming back to live with us for a few months until she goes back to become certified as a teacher.
      You may want to read this article written by my daughter letting parents know how students want us to behave. It’s rather interesting.
      Bill, I know you will make it through and you know about distance. It makes the heart grow stronger and your relationship with your son will also grow fonder. I know so because my relationship with my eldest has done just that! Take care and let us know how it’s going either in the comments or just use my Contact Me page.

      Best,
      Bob

    • John Bartas says

      Bill,

      I posted on this site two years ago when I was deeply sad after dropped my daughter off at college. Since then she changed schools, then changed her career goals; and at the moment is back home living with us again. The situation was not nearly as permanent as I made it out to be in my mind. While she went through her changes we talked on the phone every day, and now we’re much closer than when she was in high school. We can (for now) get her favorite Pizza together again :-)

      I remember the thought “was I a good father?”. It now seems silly that I put it in the past tense – I’m still her father, and though role may change, I always will be. The correct question for me is “AM I a good father right now?”

      • Bob Bessette says

        Hi John,
        Thanks so much for your update. I do remember your comment a couple of years back. I love it when parents fill us in on how things are going. I hope Bill does the same.

        Best,
        Bob

  21. Bob Bessette says

    Hi,
    What is really strange is that I wrote this 4 years ago when my eldest left for college and now, my youngest, is heading to college at the end of the month for her freshman year. Looking back at those tips, they still make sense to me and certainly helped us.
    I’m glad you are teaching yourself to cope and I’m sure your relationship with your child will get even stronger through this separation.

    Best,
    Bob

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