Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home A friend called me a few weeks ago to report that she had just finished buying all the pieces she needed for a layette. "For whom?" I inquired, anxiously, knowing that her youngest child was 12. "For Ben, of course" was the reply. I couldn't help but laugh - Ben is 18 years old and headed off to college this week. In just the way she had prepared for his arrival into this world, his college layette included all the sheets, towels, blankets and toiletries he would need to embark on his new life. The important difference being, of course, that his college layette is a gift of the things he needs to start his life away from her, and independent from her.
This moment of separation seems increasingly difficult for parents who aren't ready to say goodbye, even after they have moved their child into their freshman dorm room. Colleges vary in response to this separation anxiety in various ways but many are becoming increasingly clear about when it is time for the parents to leave and for the college to take over in its roles and responsibilities.
Ben is going to be just fine in college - his parents have spent 18 years teaching him how to be self-sufficient, independent, and self-confident. He will stumble, he will make bad choices, and he will recover. But, most importantly, he will do all these things without his parents looking over his shoulder because he can. And on really bad days, he'll have a nice blanket to wrap himself up in.