Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Dear Mom and Dad.....It's Time to Let Go

As both a psychologist in private practice and a university professor for twenty years at both urban and suburban colleges, I have had the privilege of mentoring and speaking with many young adults about what they wish they could tell their parents. As many of you prepare to send your children off to college for the first time, or to say goodby again for now, I have highlighted many of their worries and hopes into this letter. So, here's what I have learned that your children want you to know:

Dear Mom and Dad,

What a crazy summer this has been! Time has gone so fast, I really just can't believe it. June graduation came and went. All the parties and celebrations were really awesome! Then, all of a sudden, it was time to shop and time to pack! I felt so excited and scared at the same time, and I think you did too. Maybe that's why we've fought....and apologized.....then fought again, and then hugged it out. And of course there's the lists....oh those lists! Shopping lists, packing lists, paperwork lists.......

You guys have gotten me this far. I'm where I am in no small part because of you. For that I am so grateful and I love you so so much. But now it's time to let me go. Please don't worry, I don't mean that in a sink or swim kind of way. I know you wouldn't listen to that anyway! What I mean is show me that you want me to try out this thing called life on my own terms. We're going to have to work together to make that happen; we'll have to loosen our grip, me on my old life and you on the new person I'm becoming.

This is my maiden flight. I may crash, but most likely I will not. Please don't try to live this out for me and to protect me from "everything." Let me walk forward, grow, and push things a bit. In the process you will see me develop and my life just might take a turn for the extraordinary!

You'll probably hear from me less, but please let me set the pace for texts, calls and FaceTime. And please please don't be that parent who comes for a surprise visit! Be open to my going to visit new friends over college breaks, or asking to bring them to us. Be glad that I am making new friends, without being overly interested or smothery!

Care packages are great in small doses. Of course I want to stay connected to you and will long for the comforts of home. But, again, don't be that parent; please don't bombard me with excessive care packages from home, as they really will make me look ridiculous in front of those new friends I'm making.

I'll be trying a lot of new things in the next few years. I'm sure some of those things will be stupid, some will be very temporary, and some will be a part of who I am becoming as an adult. Please love me and accept me anyway, because I really do want us to have a great relationship for the rest of our lives together.

Please know that I promise to do my best in college. I will work hard and I will get tutoring if I need to. I'm going on record now to say that I truly understand that you will remind me to do my best and to get that tutoring if I "forget." I know you will call me out if you sense that I am clowning around. Just please don't go straight to threats; please don't use money as a way to control my study habits...or my choices of friends actually!

Of course, if you think I'm hurting myself or someone else, I know you're going to react. I understand that. Please try to talk to me with an open mind and heart. Remember to get me needed help also, even if I say I don't need it or want it. This might be mental health services, medical services, or information on safe sex, birth control, etc. Remind me to connect with mentors, whether professors, counselors, coaches, or older students. Let me know that you are always here to speak with me, but understand that I might not always be comfortable speaking with you. But try not to worry, I know this is a tough part of letting me go.

So, during these next few weeks, let's try to stay in the present together. I know I know.....there's bedding to buy, storage containers to order, and emergency medicines to put together. I know it all needs to be done, but it is making me nervous. I'm wondering if I'm not ready, not prepared. And we both know what happens then....that sulking, pouting, yelling, retreating, device using thing I have down pat! And really I don't want to do that. I want to spend some time together in the present, just enjoying my mom and dad.

I know my leaving is going to change things in our home. The dinner table might feel awkward, the house might seem really quiet. Don't get me wrong, I know I can be annoying. I bet there are days when you're counting down the days to my longed for departure! But, make no mistake, when I'm gone you'll walk by my room, miss me and cry a bit. Guess what though....in those quiet moments when I'm walking on campus alone, I'll be missing you too. And sadly, as I meander through the cafeteria I'll be crying for some great food from home!

While I'm gone, please take care of your health and of each other. I want you to be healthy and to be around with me for a long long time. I want you both to stay together if you are now, or to stay good friends like you are now, so I'll remind you that you really need to focus on each other right now. Seriously.....you do.

You're absolutely gonna miss me when I'm gone. Always remember that I'll miss you too. And, we're all going to be absolutely fine.

Love you guys!