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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Letting Go

Over the last few months, have you had to let go of a loved one? What do I mean? Well, it could be a child has just started kindergarten, or could be a wedding where one of your children was married. It could also mean a child leaving home to attend a college some distance from home.

Some 23 years ago, my son Ken went off to Tulane University. At home there were mixed feelings. We certainly wanted our son to move on with his life, but as parents, we were concerned. Traveling to New Orleans, we were invited to a “parents only” session with the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. The session was entitled, “Letting Go.”

One of the first things the speaker said was that our children would soon dismiss us and tell us that we were free to leave. He could not have been more accurate. During the second day of the orientation our son told us that he was fine, and we could go home. For us, it was hard to believe that our son would be on his own some thirteen hundred miles away from Long Island.

Next, our speaker went on to present what he called a seven part program to let your child go. Not all the points apply to letting go a child in kindergarten or a wedding, but all of the them are worthwhile for me to lay out in this piece. Here they are:

1. Never ask whether your son or daughter is homesick. Each one probably is – but do not rub it in.

2. It is alright to ask, “what is happening?” You can even ask what groups have been joined; whether they have made new friends; and even whether they are fitting in.

3. Write lots of letters or today emails. One such communication might provoke a phone call – even if your child is not short on cash.

4. Do not worry if you get a phone call filled with depression. Listen carefully – even to the pauses. They are glad to know you can be reached and are still there for them.

5. Later than sooner you should visit. Let your youngster show off to you the new structure of life that he or she has been creating. Always try to be complimentary.

6. Never tell them – even though you know it is true that, “These are the best days of your lives.” The professors in their classes will handle that for you and then it will be more believable.

7. Most of all – trust them. This will be good for them and for you as well.

There is no way that I can call this a magical formula, but, you really must have to let them go before your son or daughter can really come home.

As I reflect back to those beginning days of my son at Tulane, I can tell you the formula did work, because Ken even called home – once in awhile.

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