A Sweet Sorrow

Going off to College- 
A Loss or a Gain?

Every August, we are honored to share with many families the powerful experience of seeing their first child go off to college.   We are sharing such experiences right now.  This year, we have learned from several families some interesting insights into this very dramatic moment in a family's life.

More than most years, for whatever reason, the sense of loss seems to hang a bit heavier in the air.

It makes sense, after all, here is the firstborn, who has been a child in your home all the years you have been a parent, about to move out of your home, and start their life in their own place.  No matter what, this is an enormous change.   And for many families, there is a very deep sense that a special time, a powerful era, is drawing to a close.   This makes sense, too, since the difference between your child having your address as their main home, and their own separate address as their main home is profound.

Thinking about this very dramatic moment it is also clear that the change has been building for many years.   We all start off as newborns, a period in our lives when we are so connected to our parents that there is so little about us that is not really still part of our parents.   From birth onward, there is a steady growth of our child's abilities and powers.   By the time they enter school they are capable of doing rather amazing amounts of work on their own, an ability that grows dramatically as they go through the early grades, middle, and then, high school.   And, of course, emotionally, our children go through a predictable sequence that leads them to move from their chief joy being with us their parents, towards seeking a home of their own.

At the same time, I thought it would be helpful to share reflections on the connections that not only remain, but actually grow as our children leave home to pursue their own future.   First, though they may be moving away to college, and in time setting up their own homes, they often remain very connected to their parents.   I have found this generation more than most likes keeping the deep connection with parents very much alive.  From email to cell phone to Skype, the ability to stay connected is now so much improved, and most of our young adult children do that.

Perhaps most interesting is how enriched parents' lives are by the lives of their adult children.  In many ways the joy experienced is very similar to a parent's joy at seeing their infant first smile, take a first step, or at the first school play.   It is not discussed very often, but when our children do something in the world, it seems to expand our world, it seems to bring to life the love we have for them from the beginning.   That excitement and sense of love coming to life, only grows as our children leave home.   And so, in some ways paradoxically, leaving home actually makes the love for our children only grow.   Yes, they are leaving, but they are also arriving, on a larger world stage, and so able to do larger acts, which in turn means so much more to share.

So, as so many of our children graduate from high school, and this week and the coming weeks go off to college, we feel for your sense of an era coming to an end, but also for the excitement and love to come as new eras emerge.

Be well,
Dr Arthur Lavin

*Disclaimer* The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person's particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.

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