Yesterday I told you that I told my daughter that she could not come home from college till Thanksgiving. Some of you came straight out and said I did the right thing. No one said I didn’t do the right thing, but I could tell…..they weren’t thrilled with my answer. And a bunch of people wanted to know “Why”. Why did I say no?

Ok.

Here’s the WHY.

The job of a parent is to teach their child how to live without them. Seriously- you are a successful parent if your child is able to leave the nest and prosper. And by prosper I do not mean make a million dollars, or start Microsoft, or be the President. Prosper means doing things for themselves: having a source of income and an abode and some sort of goal, even if that goal is binging shows on Netflix. Choosing reasonable friends and mates (but yeah- we screw up there 50% of the time, cause no one has a relationship crystal ball- but that’s ok cause they’re out there) Prosper means taking care of your health and home. Sewing a button. Making pasta. Cleaning the toilet. Eating healthy.

That’s the job description: must teach how to clean the grout in the tub and fold a fitted sheet.

That’s all practical of course. Your kid must learn how to do all the things you routinely do. Which means that you do not go to their house and do all those things…

Seriously- don’t do your kids laundry once they move out.

Now, along with the practical comes the emotional. Which is where my decision comes in.

I miss my kid. Of course I do. She spent almost 18 years in the bed down the hall, and way to long in utero before that. She is my debate partner. We recommend books to one another. We go to cultural events together. We had tea together every night so we could talk out our days. So of course I would love her to come home.

But what does coming home accomplish?

What does it really teach her?

Someone suggested that it would reassure her, to be able to know she can come home. But does it really reassure her? Or does it signal that I don’t think she can hack her new life? That it’s OK to run home at the slightest “misfortune” because Mommy will take care of her….

Shouldn’t the goal be to teach her that she can, is totally able, to care for herself?

Which is why I said “No”.

Remember when kids were little: how many band aids did they go through? They were still getting their sea legs, which cause them to fall. Running too fast, doing things they shouldn’t. My daughter would be covered in Dora the Explorer band aids…..Until she learned how to walk more confidently, and learned when to run fast and which situations could be dangerous….then she didn’t need as many band aids. She was solving the root of the problem. Coming home is a band aid. It covers the problem, masks it, but doesn’t really solve what caused the scrape. Coming home is essentially running away. If she is not at school, how is she learning to deal with what ails her at school?

Running away. Do we really want to teach our children to run away from problems? Run away from things that scare them? Emotionally I mean. If Godzilla is running towards you by all means RUN….

Don’t we want our kids to confront what’s in front of them?

Do we want them changing jobs because they don’t like their boss? I mean continually. I had a friend who used to change her job every year because of personality differences. Trust me: that story does not end well.

Do we want our kids giving up on relationships because their is a little bump in the road? While there are clearly times when divorce is necessary, do people give up and walk away a tad too easily?

Do you move because you don’t like your neighbor? (true story- my sister has a friend that did just this recently- and we’re talking selling a house)

So big picture: what lesson do I want to teach my daughter?

I love her. She knows that. Every action she takes dictates that she knows she is loved immeasurably. Her strength, character and resilience show that. I love her, but I am also tough with her. I am her parent, not her friend.

I want her to continue to be strong.

I want her to continue to be confident.

I want her to continue to be resilient.

But she needs to be a few hundred miles away.

Because while I am always there for her, I can’t always be there for her. She has to find me in her heart, not resettle herself in her bedroom down the hall. “Mommy loves you, but you don’t need me anymore. You got this.”

That’s why.

73 thoughts on “Why?

  1. One thing I remember from my own University days is the trip home is not home the way I imagined it. After my first Thanksgiving (which for us in in October, so only 6 weeks after Uni started) I went home and it didn’t feel like home. But neither did the dorm. I truly felt homeless. And I had to go through this somehow, learn that going back isn’t going to feel like it did last year, or the many years I lived there and wanting out to start my own life. But going forward even though the dorm room felt more like a temporary home rather than a true home is important to adjust to the transition of becoming responsible for adult things, including your own emotions.

    Kids who go away to University don’t have a home, really, to call their own. Even though their parents’ home will always be home (with enduring trust, love, consistency, acceptance), it’s different after you’ve moved out the first time and return home.

    I’m thinking, despite the distance, can you arrange a meeting halfway for lunch, see a movie, go to a museum? Like a, ‘mom is here for you let’s do something fun together’ trip and then you return to your own respective homes after? If the distance is too great (or the trip too expensive) maybe a skype session? Or send her a care package with some things to reminisce her childhood/teen years? My mom used to send me things, like cookies and candy and books and magazines and stamps so I didn’t have to pay for them when I sent letters to my European family…

    You will both weather this no matter what the ultimate outcome will be. Good luck! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Please. We talk, text or facetime every day. Yesterday I sent her her third package. Admittedly, first was her tennis racket which she legit forgot, second was her non driver ID which hadn’t come when she left, and one was sleeping bag which she didntbrealize she needed, but still, there was always a note and something fun package. I’m totally available. And parents weekend is in a month si I’ll be there while weekend. I’m going to talk more about this tomorrow

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  2. I missed out your earlier post. I can give my viewpoint as a daughter. I knew I had to face life alone and my problems too. But my parents are my friends too. Escaping problems is not a big thing, life kicked ass when I escaped too long. So I could face it. My parents gave me a safe place to heal. I needed that assurance.

    Laundry cooking chores is not a big thing here for us. The closeness with our parents is more important. My culture is different, we stay with our parents forever if not married. They look after us when we need and we look after them when they need. So the home is a safe place for both. This is my personal view as the life I have seen.
    I am my sister’s home. Whatever happens, big or small, she has to come to me and to parents. We will solve when she cannot. World is a bad place, I have gone through many things. Home has to be a safe place for all to rest whatever be the age. Again completely my viewpoint from my way of life

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    1. A lot if its cultural. Here, the societal expectation is that kids move out in adulthood. And what if I decide to move to another place? Does she follow me? What if i die?

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      1. I know she doesn’t want a forever home with me. That’s abundantly clear. And it wont be an option. I don’t plan on living in nyc forever. Too expensive in retirement years to live here.

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  3. I am thinking that if you pursue a particular angle: for example, if she wants to come home, and you tell her the monies spend coming home by train or plane or bus or car and she sees the hours, time, money represented, then she will think twice as she might think of where else she could use the monies: books, decorating her room, a visit to a museum or several, treat a new friend to lunch.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just remembering my university days as the trouble and time it took from Long Island to upstate New York and then having my dad pick me up was a hassle for my parents and me, so I stayed and made some new friends.

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  5. I think you did good. When I was that age, I wanted to get out of my parent’s home and be my own boss. I did it on my own. Took care of myself. Did all my cooking, cleaning, sewing, ironing, the works, which is a good thing to do before you enter any relationships too because I wasn’t looking to find someone else to take care of me. I wanted an equal partner. You’re right, it’s called growing up 🙂

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  6. Well LA, you said controversy and you jumped in with both feet didn’t you! I missed the discussions your blog generates while you were on hiatus this summer but you’ve come back with what is proving to be an interesting topic, and clearly while still respectful in the comments, a divisive one in many ways.
    Shalini noted the cultural differences as well, so many will have different opinions with this topic.
    I appreciate that you know your daughter, and have chosen to listen to your instincts and base your decisions on 18 years of parenting in a way that fits your families ideals and goals.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You want to know the funny thing? This wasn’t the controversial topic I was originally going to write about. This whole convo with my daughter started after that……so Ive apparently got lots of controversy coming along

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I told you that you did the right thing not because I wanted your daughter to get an extra helping of homesickness, but because it would end up being the right thing for her.

    Life doesn’t play. It comes at you in every direction, and the ability to persevere and problem solve on the fly is tantamount to success. This kind of adversity serves a constructive purpose, and one day she’ll look back fondly on the times when she rose to the challenges as a young adult.

    Double dose of good vibes and support for you, mama.

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  8. I had to stop and remember when Thanksgiving is for you. In Canada it is at the beginning of October so coming home for Thanksgiving is so soon to leaving for school. In the USA it is at the end of November I think and that is so close to Christmas break, why bother?
    I like that you can make the decisions that are best for your daughter’s independence and growth. Every son/daughter is different and you know yours better than any of your readers and they comment from their own viewpoints and experience. You obviously know what is best for both of you, and I know that coming home does not mean you are not staying in contact and providing long distance love and support relentlessly.

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    1. She actually wanted to come hom3 next weekend, which is the no. Thanksgiving is a given because her dorm is going to be pretty empty that weekend…biggest travel day of the year and all….but thank you!

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  9. You did the right thing! When my daughter went off to college for the first time classes started the week before Labor Day. At the parent meeting, they told us point blank not to allow our children to come home for Labor Day weekend. They said that every year they lose students the first week because they go home and don’t come back. They weren’t even allowed to have a car on campus the first year so they couldn’t drive home. It takes time to adjust. What she is going through is normal. It’s hard for both the parents and the kids. But that just makes your time together very special when she does come home after an acceptable time away. Best wishes to your daughter, and to you and your husband.

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  10. I have to admit at first I thought that it was kind of harsh but after i though about it and read today’s post i absolutely think you made the right choice. I’m so proud of you. Thank you for being a parent instead of a friend. She’ll thank you for it later on.

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  11. As the person who suggested it would reassure her to know coming home was an option, I think coming home might make her realize how much that isn’t the right place for her now. Of course, I am biased. I got very homesick at sleepover camp and my parents refused to let me come home. It didn’t change anything – I was just miserable for the duration of the camp.

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  12. I am curious as to what your husband thought because I remember the convo you had with him when you were coming back from leaving her the first time. It seemed he was more distressed. Was he in agreement with no coming home? I woke up in the middle of the night once because I had a fear that I did not teach my kids how to fold a fitted sheet! Facetime helps a lot!

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    1. He pretty much always defers to my judgement on parenting. The one time he didn’t was actually a disaster, but 8 think he gets it. His goal would be to make things easy for her. That’s not parenting. That’s something different

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  13. I literally cannot “Amen!” this enough! ❤
    And(!!) it’s nobody’s business ‘why’ you do what you do with your child(ren) even if you share what you’re doing!
    This is hard for both of you! But sometimes being a good parent is doing the hard things! I’d wager she know that too.
    Brava, my friend! So much love coming at you!

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    1. Thank you! I don’t care if no ones agrees. I just want to have a dialogue about both sides. Some things are right for some families, and no one parents their kids the same way. But all these opinions need to be discussed openly and honestly!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re exactly right!
        And agreeing isn’t necessary, being open and honest is key! As long as there’s no judgement, all is well. I believe it’s helpful to learn what other parents have to say! Even though my girls are grown, I can still learn how to be their parent in different ways from new points of view!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Side note: Baby K is sick. Has been sick since Saturday. Low grade fever, mad diarrhea. Her little bottom actually look burned the rash is so bad.
    Thing 1 and i had a quick text convo about the baby being warm, she asked advice. I didn’t answer in a timely manner as I was in the middle of something else. When we got back to each other, she had taken the baby’s temp and given her some tylenol. I told Thing 1, “You got this, Mommy.” And to be perfectly honest, what better, more important, and powerful thing could I have told her? She can mom her kid. She can do it!
    LA, the hard work pays off! 😘

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  15. Given “Ward Of The State” muscles it way into my Curriculum Vitae, along with the pivotal fact of having never been a parent , I have little to offer this discussion. But when has my back story ever prevented me from two cents-ing.

    So it’s not about tough love, helicopter, of the this or that of whatever progenitor methods making the rounds. This is the commonsense of folding that fitted sheet. You work your sweet butt off to button up this opportunity, so Kid -stick some bubble gum on it and stick to the plan.

    But when you visit her, you may want to scope out a coffee shop reasonably free of college kid angst …where working folk seek caffeine and shelter from the daily grind. Perhaps she can use the real world as a redoubt when doubt sets in, and Mom, Dad, her fur family, and that Big Apple beckons.

    Liked by 2 people

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