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Empty Nest Syndrome Is A Thing. How Do We Cope?Marybeth Bock, MPH
We’re all still buzzing about the college admissions scandal that broke last week, and the story is certain to bob back into the headlines as more details emerge. The criminal investigation and resulting national discussion is shining a light on admissions practices at highly selective institutions and the complicated layers of inequity that exist even when applicants follow legal and approved paths to admission.
This may be just the tip of the “side door” iceberg. The debate will continue.
But today I just want to talk about being a parent, and how the scandal has got me thinking but isn’t going to change what I do. And that’s not because I’m a perfect parent by any means. Heavens, no.
Here I'll point out that I'm wearing two hats right now — I’m the editor at CollegiateParent and also the mother of two sons in college and a recent graduate. So I’m in the trenches with you, and what I’d like to say is: Keep doing what you’re doing, dear reader.
You’re here — we’re all here together — because we care about our kids.
We college moms and dads are a diverse group, from all around the country and different types of family backgrounds. Some of us didn’t go to college ourselves; others have advanced degrees. We may be staying home with children or working full- or part-time outside the home. Some of us are hands-off types while others have to work really hard to resist the urge to helicopter/snowplow. But we do resist, because we want what’s best for our students.
This is not to say we’re martyrs to the cause of raising perfect children (we know that’s an impossible goal). We’re not always the “best” parents, and they sure as heck aren’t always the “best” kids. Wanting what’s best is something different.
Wanting what’s best for our students is about being present in their lives. Wanting what’s best for them is about sharing our values and holding our daughters and sons to high standards.
Wanting what’s best for them means helping them discover and create opportunities to grow in new and challenging ways. Wanting what’s best for them means being their safe home base — someplace to go forth from and come back to, where they will always be unconditionally loved and accepted.
Wanting what’s best for them means helping them develop into the people they are meant to be. It's about them, not us.
When it comes to college, wanting what’s best for them means helping them prepare to make the most of the opportunity of higher education. It means empowering them to make their own choices.
So, nasty as it all is, maybe we should be grateful for the "Operation Varsity Blues" scandal. It’s always a good thing to be prompted to reflect — about some of the things we do for our children, or might do in certain circumstances. Then we can recommit to doing what we feel is right to do, to the best of our ability:
Because education is something our students make happen through their own hard work and creativity when they get to campus — whether it’s a big school or a small school, the state university or a community college. It’s not something the institution delivers to them like a pizza.
So, on we go on this adventure of being a parent. In the day-to-day, it’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. I'm in it for the long haul. I know you feel the same way.
CollegiateParent will keep talking about this issue and sharing information, resources and personal stories about the many topics college parents and families care, wonder and worry about. It takes a village and we’re committed to building a supportive community.
If you're starting the college search/prep process with your student, we have some good reading for you on our High School Parent page — take a look! We look forward to hearing your questions and benefiting from your insights, so be in touch any time.
When your college student starts their first semester, it’s not just a big deal for them. It’s a big deal for you, too. Get the First Semester Guide for College Parents now!