Separation Anxiety – How are you dealing with your child away at college?

Over a year ago, our daughter left for college as a freshman. college, anxietyAs parents we certainly felt the pangs of separation anxiety in the days, weeks, and months that followed that dramatic day of drop-off.

She was about to experience a new adventure in her life and we, as parents, were about to do the same. For her it was with a sense of wide-eyed wonder and excitement and for us it was a sense of pain of being separated from our first-born for essentially the first time in our lives.

As parents there are certainly ways to deal with anxiety and make it a little more palatable. As you can certainly imagine, with children heading off to college for the first time, these two posts have become very popular here at Totally Unique Life.

  • She left Home Bye Bye
  • 5 Parental Tips for Dealing with College Separation Anxiety

    It’s almost like you can predict the season based on the popularity of certain articles. As a result of these posts, I heard from other parents who are dealing with the separation anxiety that my wife and I dealt with a little over a year ago.

    It felt good that I could actually help out other parents deal with this powerfully emotional time in their lives.

    Jennifer from the UK, before her daughter left for college, wrote about how the impending separation anxiety was affecting her:

    “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?
    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.”

    Kate, who is from the US, responded to Jennifer’s heartfelt comment with this:

    “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.”

    Fortunately Jennifer saw Kate’s comment and responded to her:

    “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.”

    Megan Lyn writes about her feelings about her son leaving for college:

    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.”

    El Sheila also sounded in on the matter of college separation anxiety:

    “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”

    Ms Freeman comments on the pain of the anxiety when her son joined the Navy:

    “This is such a sweet and heartfelt post. I know your “pain”. My only joined the Navy it’s been 6 years (I know get over it MOM) and he is married and lives in San Diego (Okay just let him go), but the day he left was the hardest day of my life (Yes even worse pain than his birthday).
    We raised them well with strong values and convictions, they spread their wings and fly the strait and narrow. :)”

    I have had the pleasure of being able to stay in contact with a few of these parents after their children have left for school. They, like my wife and I, are dealing with the separation anxiety. It definitely gets easier with time but the feelings are always there. Living with and nurturing your children for so many years makes it so difficult to say goodbye.

    It is wonderful for me that my blog can be a forum where parents who are going through this tough time can support each other and interact. Knowing that you aren’t alone in this plight helps. Overcoming anxiety is not going to happen overnight.

    I wish you all well who are going through first-hand what my wife and I went through last year at this time. It is tough but you will get through it. Your children will grow and blossom over the next four years. We see it in my daughter. She is a strong, confident, and extremely happy young woman who is managing her own life in every way.

    At the same time, she knows that we will always be there for her. I understand that the pain of separation is real but, believe me, it is for the best. It might be hard to understand that now but you will in time.

    If you have anything to share with my fellow parents who may be feeling these pangs of separation anxiety, please feel free to share with us in the comments.

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  • Comments

    1. says

      When I left home for school, I definitely had my moments suffering from separation anxiety as well! I don’t think it’s just the parents that have a tough time dealing with the transition.

      • Bob Bessette says

        Hi Sarah,
        I agree with you! Children also have a tough time being away from home. This post was meant to be a parent perspective on children moving away to college. Thanks for your comment.


    2. says

      hello bob,
      how are you?
      should i say for now i’m glad i’ve got 14 years for my son & 17 years for my daughter before i go through similar experiences lol!!
      although i remember the first time my son went to his nursery, i had to put up a brave face, assure his mum and constantly remind myself he would enjoy it there and believe me he does..
      take care and enjoy the rest of the day

      • Bob Bessette says

        Hi Ayo,
        I am great, how are you? I am actually on a 3 day vacation with my wife in Maine (USA) on the Atlantic coast celebrating our 24th anniversary. Wow, you certainly have a long time to wait until you deal with the dreaded separation anxiety. I somehow thought that you were a bit older but maybe you just had children later in life. Believe me, it goes by really fast. My wife and I still cannot believe we are parents of a college girl and in another 3 years another college girl. Enjoy them while they are young. I have to drop by your blog soon. I have been bad about visiting others sites these days. I’ll head over there right now.


    3. says


      thank you for this posting. I have learned some things and in feature i will look over the posting more often.

      Cheers, Steve


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