Parents Struggle with Letting Go

September 14th, 2009 by Kristina M. Benites Leave a reply »
No Mom you can not move into the dorm with me

No Mom you can not move into the dorm with me

It’s September, also known as the end of summer. More widely known as back-to-school season. Kids are moving up in grade school, some entering high school, Juniors are becoming Seniors, and many teens worldwide are leaving the nest and moving into college dorms away from home. While this is an important decision made by students who are ready for the change, some parents struggle with letting go.

When Maegan Maniego headed to New York to attend college this fall, she knew she’d have to handle her classes, work , friends and all sorts of new responsibilities. What she did not expect was how much time she’d have to devote to her parents and family.

“I try to keep in touch almost any way I can with my mom and little cousins. I grew up with them and sometimes I feel that they miss me and get sad when I am not there,” said Maegan.

According to a UCLA survey, 26%of college freshman say they hear from their parents every day.

Even with a 5-year-old nephew at home in Jacksonville, Linda Maniego, like many baby boomer parents, have had a very difficult time letting go,

“Eventhough I had expected her to go to school away from home, I still couldn’t have prepared myself entirely for when she finally left. She is my only daughter and now I have sent her out into the world. I keep telling myself she will be fine, but I still miss her every day.”

Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to bridge the gap between Maegan and her mom.


The Maniegos call Maegan”s cell phone at least four times a week, facebook her two or three times a day and chat via AIM for hours on end. Maegan sends handmade postcards for her mom and gets care packages from home.

But that’s still not enough for mom — who is considering a drastic move.

Honey I was in the neighborhood and just thought your roomate might like this pie

Honey I was in the neighborhood and just thought your roomate might like this pie



“I would be willing to move closer to Maegan, especially if she asked me to,” said Linda. “I’d be the first one in the car if it meant doing all I can for my daughter by being there.”

Marjorie Savage, the parent program director at the University of Minnesota and the author of “You’re on Your Own, But I’m Here if You Need Me: A Guide to Parenting College Kids,” says there are some risks with staying too connected.


 “The risk of having a parent be overly involved is that students won’t be able to learn how to make decisions, and that really is the biggest thing that students need to be able to do,”


said Savage. She adding that parents seem to be having trouble letting go for a number of reasons.

“First of all, parents have been told to be involved since their kids started preschool,” she said. “Second, they’re investing a lot. College is expensive today. Finally, they’re involved because they can be. Communication is instant and constant.”

Other students at Maegan”s school said they’re well aware of the mixed feelings constant calls from home can stir up.

“My dad’s very tech-savvy so he’ll text me little messages or pictures from his phone right to my phone, so I get to see what’s he’s doing or hear what he’s doing all the time,” said 19-year-old Nicole Levine. “And about every week or so, we try and video chat back and forth over the Internet. So I get a little bit of face time.”

Could that really become too much?

“I’m really close to my parents, and I love talking with them, but just not all the time,” said 18-year-old Tara Hurley.

Savage labels overprotective parents as “helicopter parents.”

“It’s the parent who swoops in, hovers, makes sure things are OK, and then maybe swoops back out again,” she said. 


Let them go they will come back we swear...didnt you?

Let them go they will come back we swear...didnt you?


Experts fear that parents who rush to the rescue will produce kids who are in no rush to grow up, risking problems in their careers, relationships and sense of self-esteem.



“It makes me feel a little bad to tell my mom not to be so overprotective. I’m ready for college, I’m ready to go to New York and to experience the beginning of my own life, and that’s what I tell her when she worries,” said Maegan.




How can parents learn to let go but still stay involved with their college kids? Parenting experts offer these tips:

Don’t offer your advice unless they ask for it
Don’t always swoop in to “save” them — try to let them solve their own problems
Avoid the early morning call
Don’t tag team: It’s annoying for mom and dad to be on the line at the same time
Accept their silence when they don’t feel like talking


Parents feeling down for their teen going to college don’t need to feel that way, it’s always best to focus on the investment you are making for them, and what good will come from their experiences there. They will come back and visit, but if you talk with the every single chance you get (during the thirty minutes you have for lunch), there won’t be much to update you on when you get together again. Be patient, available, and above all things, positive. Your support and belief in their independence is most important.


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