Act as if...
By Ellyn Longacre
The high school graduation ceremonies and parties are over, summer is in full swing and for many kids and parents, the approach of Fall brings a new chapter.
hether heading off to college, or otherwise forging the path into the real world away from home, the impact is personal yet shared. These young adults look forward to a new brand of freedom and responsibility, some with eager enthusiasm, some with cautious excitement, and some with a bit of trepidation. Parents may be feeling much the same way. Maybe it’s too simple to think that, since parents have had 17 or 18 years to prepare their kids to leave the nest, it should be an easy transition. Kids at this age are likely more comfortable in their new adult skin than parents may realize, since developmentally their main influence comes from their peers (certainly, many parents can attest that their kids stopped listening to them around the age of 12). I spoke with Ellyn Longacre, 18
Women2Women Summer 2013
MA who has been in private practice in individual, marriage, and family counseling for 13 years. Who would know better what to expect or how to prepare for the transition of sending your child off into the world than a licensed, practicing mental health professional who regularly works with families in transition, and who herself has been through the experience, right? Ellyn agreed to write a piece about “Preparing Yourself as Your Kids Leave Home” with this perspective in mind. What resulted took on a different angle, and so the title changed to “Act As If.” You’ll see why. I can remember my husband and me checking out of our homey motel room in Colorado in August, 2007. We were preparing to go to the airport and head back home – minus one of our family members. We had dropped by our son’s dorm room for a quick
goodbye (to abandon him, to go back home without him). “Don’t you dare let him see you cry,” I said to my husband. “There will be plenty of time for that on the plane.” Well, that is my clearest recollection of the summer that my first son went away to college. We were in shock; it had happened so quickly! Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were standing on the corner waiting for the bus to take him to kindergarten? They always say that kids grow up in the blink of an eye, and here I was going from flashbacks to that little kid to realizing that he was now going to be living in Colorado, rather far from Pennsylvania. And now it seems I barely saw him that summer; I had to wonder, was he preparing us for his impending absence? Maybe? Probably not. Change: the one constant in life. The excitement of entering the
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