When Kerry and Deb Waymire picked up their daughter, Lauren, from the airport for her first visit home from Oregon's Warner Pacific College, they weren't sure what to expect. "The first thing she did when she got off the plane was tell me she had found some new music she was listening toit was Queen!" said Kerry. "That was so humorous to me. She went away and started listening to music I listened to 25 years ago."
Welcoming their daughter back to Phoenix, Arizona, from her college 1,300 miles away was "surreal," her mother said.
"It was bizarre," said Deb. "It was as if nothing had changed in some respects, but in other respects it was almost like talking to a stranger, because she had a totally new set of friends we didn't know and experiences we hadn't shared."
Like the Waymires, many parents are preparing to navigate their families through one of their biggest transitions yetsending a child to college. Since this transition can bring its share of joys and trials to any family, Christian College Guide interviewed several parents of new college students to see what insights they had to offer about facing this new stage of life.
During this time in the life of your family, when both you and your child are experiencing major changes, nobody gets the easy road. Family dynamics are shifting dramatically and that's bound to bring a unique set of new challenges.
Linda and Richard Smith, for example, say they missed being involved in their child's daily activities, even though their son, Mark, had only moved about 12 miles away to Ohio's Cedarville University.
"Part of the loneliness we felt was due to the fact that we no longer went a lot of places with him, like we did when he was in high school," Richard said.
Linda agreed. "There was a terrible emptiness walking by his bedroom door," she said. "It almost seemed awkward at dinner with just our younger son there."
Fortunately, Linda and Richard resisted the urge to drop in on their son, just to see him. Even though they're close to Mark's school, they've chosen to keep their distance so that their son can build new relationships on his own, take on more responsibility and become increasingly independent.
Still, it can be hard to ignore the feeling that your child doesn't need you as much as he or she used to. After all, you've spent the past 18 years protecting, nurturing, leading and making decisions for your son or daughter. Sending this child off to college means letting go of some major child-rearing responsibilities.
"As a mom, you're always wanting to fix things and be there," said Linda. "Knowing that he's taking care of all of this on his own is a little tough. But on the other hand, he's done very well on his own and that helps."
Like Linda, several of the parents we spoke to agreed that seeing their child mature and make wise decisions helped make it a little easier to let go. Recognizing these positive aspects of your changing family is an important step in taking some of the stress and fear out of the transition.
Busy Lives, Changing Roles
Tamara Weller welcomed her daughter, Whitney, home for spring break, knowing they were going to have a very busy week.
The Wellers had some important family business to attend to, and they needed their daughter's full involvement. While Whitney, a student at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, knew handling this family business was important, she also wanted a much-needed vacation from the busyness of college life.
"She wanted to spend time at home and she wanted to visit her boyfriend and his family. There just wasn't time for all of it," Tamara said. "She felt like I was making her do what she didn't want to do, and there was definitely tension there."