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What Happens When Your College Freshman Wants to Come Home?

Updated on July 18, 2016
MaryBethRobinson profile image

Beth is a mother of 3. A graduate of the Ohio State University and experience with HR, Career & Tech Ed and lots of mom stories!!

When Your College Freshman Wants to Come Home

The hoopla of graduating from high school has come and gone. Senior pictures are in their frames. Leftover invitations and announcements are put away and thank you cards have been written. It's now getting real. College is just around the corner and your son/daughter is now going to orientation, making schedules, applying for scholarships, buying bedding, computers, lamps and a ton of things they will never use or need. The honeymoon period to college has begun.

Both of you now have this fantasy view of what college will look like. As a parent, we tend to fantasize about our children spending hours on end at the library, making the Dean's List,joining clubs, making new friends, sending them care packages that they will love and appreciate. As a student, they will fantasize about finding their classes easily, having the perfect roommate that will end up being their best friend, going to parties, meeting awesome new people and having fun. Reality tends to be the grey area in between.

in reality, the roommates aren't always awesome, classes are harder than high school, the food isn't great and parties are reserved for the upper classmen. Your child will get lonely, they will become homesick and they will miss what's comfortable and familiar: home. So, as parents what do we do? We want to fix it, make it better, make sure our sad, lonely child is happy again. We let them come home the first few weeks of school. Then what? They miss the familiar and the easy, so they decide that it would just be better to come home, go to the local community college and move back home. What do we do? We let them. That, my friends, is a HUGE mistake.

Life isn't hard and life isn't easy. Therefore, we need to prepare them for what's hard and what's uncomfortable. That means you as a parent, need to lay down the law and send your child back to school. Your child needs to understand that they need to learn how to be independent, how to fail, how to figure things out on their own. If we spend every waking hour fixing things, our children will never become hard working, functional adults. We are raising a generation of needy, incapable people. This will be to their detriment.

Our daughter was a college freshman and she came home the weekend of HS homecoming. The same night, her boyfriend broke up with her. The next morning, she was a mess, she was laying on the couch crying and was inconsolable. She wanted to stay home. Instead of babying her, we did the unthinkable. We told her to get her stuff and she was going back to school. Her college is famous for their huge Halloween weekends. We decided that along with her best friend, she is picking herself up, getting a costume and we drove her back to school. Still a bit of a mess, we dropped her off at her dorm, kissed her goodbye and left our baby girl to deal with her emotional state and her loss on her own. As we drove away, we were thinking, did we do the right thing? Did we do what's best for our daughter? Yes! Yes we did.

We have another friend who's son is playing Division I baseball. He's the total package! He's good looking, he's sweet, he's athletic and now he's going to college about 3 1/2 hours away from home. At first, he was OK being away at school and then slowly he started to miss the familiar. He missed his family, he missed his home, and he missed his friends. He would call his parents in tears begging them to let him come home.. Each time, his mom had to tearfully tell him no. She had to be strong, but allow him to realize that college is an adjustment. Each phone call became easier and easier. He asked to come home less and less. By the time Christmas Break came around, he was fine. He came home to spend time with his family and went back to school. Had his mom and dad gave in, baseball is over, scholarship gone and life will get much harder.

I have seen too many people allow their kids to quit before the first semester was even over. Hell, I knew a kid who left school the first DAY because he realized he was no longer the popular jock on the block, he was just some other freshman football player, and he couldn't handle it. Mom and dad placated to him and that's not fair to your child. Don't be afraid to let go of your child. Don't be afraid to allow your child to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to let them stumble. This is how we grow. This is how we learn. If we, as parents, don't allow our children become independent thinkers, doers and adults, we are doing them a huge disservice. Remember this: your child will stumble, your child will fail, your child will make poor judgments, your child will be lonely and sad. Stand your ground, be loving and be firm and let them know that they are ok to call you for advice, but they are going to have to start making their own decisions. If you do that, your child will end up being so much more prepared for what's in store for them as adults.


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