The parenting road always has potholes…

August 19, 2015


Parenting Potholes/Challenges


I’m not really sure how to start this…but he isn’t going back.

This is the weekend…the weekend that everyone’s college-aged kids head off to new adventures at the college of their dreams – nervous, excited, but ready. Ok, most aren’t really ready but they sure think they are.

Moms and Dads are lugging multiple car-loads of bedding, desk supplies, mini-refrigerators, gaming systems (really!), room decorations and a few mementos from home to college cities and towns around the country.

We did that…last year. We thought we did everything right! We talked to the roommate and his family in advance (boys don’t coordinate bedding but we had to know who would bring the big screened tv – hey, maybe it was the tv’s fault!)

We bought everything in one big, incredibly systematic shopping spree at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We had all of the pre-requisite discussions about going to class, meeting new people, fraternity parties, girls, “No” means “No”, oh, and more conversations about going to class.

We left him after lunch to head home while he went off to an orientation event.

I cried. I sat in my car and hoped – “Please let him be happy and successful!”

He did a jig. He sat on his new, vinyl desk chair and thought, “Free at last!”

Fast forward through fraternity rush, coursework, football rivalries, dropped courses he should have never been told to take, an on-campus job, sleep (lots of sleeping), new coursework, some good friends, lots of reassurances of “Yeah, Mom, everything is great!”, a serious medication mix-up at the pharmacy, a shoplifting charge, less coursework, pot, booze, more sleeping…

In May, he sat tired, depressed, defeated and ashamed in my office and said, “I’m not going back.”

My heart was broken – for him. And for me.

They’d take him – because we’d pay – but he won’t.

I am proud that he is smart enough to know that he isn’t ready to go back – well, I am trying to be.

I want him to be healthy.shutterstock_150290501.jpg

I want him to want it.

So he is taking a different route – I am so grateful that he is still on the road, honestly.

He is going to Community College this fall.

He won’t know anyone. There are no fraternities. No football  rivalries. Still lots of coursework. There will still be pot, booze, and more reassurances, I guess.

It is so hard, as a parent, to let go of hopes, dreams, and the “X College Mom” t-shirt. Can’t it just be easy? But we all have to let go – that is the work of parenting.

I don’t know what else to do except to hold him – as he gets his feet back on the ground – in my heart.

And hope – again.


Until next week…Be Wise!


10 thoughts on “The parenting road always has potholes…

  1. Amy what a beautiful post! Thanks for your honesty and sharing a very real story that happens. Yes!! Letting go is what we do more and more of as parents. We’re making college plans for my son now (his junior year) and it’s good to know the “letting go” doesn’t stop… Thanks for this post!

    1. We made a tough decision when our oldest was a junior in high school…no 4 year college because it was “a bad investment”. We knew that life would have a different path for him and despite all the perceived pressure to send him away to college, we knew it would be a waste of money and a recipe for failure. We as parents need to quit competing with other parents. Our son is smart and didn’t party or do drugs. He just wasn’t going to be a traditional 4 year student. He went to the local community college and became an EMT, then a Paramedic and finally a Firefighter. He plans to finish school and become a flight nurse. Today he is 24 married and just bought his first home. No regrets and we are so proud of him.

  2. Thank you! Your words touched me as we live in a town of a top college and my child won’t be attending. He hasn’t grown up enough and feels so much pressure to declare a major and decide what he is going to do the rest of his life. We want our children to be successful and it’s a hard pill to swallow when their future is unsure and you can’t do anything about it. Somehow it feels like a reflection on us as parents.
    Everyone around me has children attending top colleges and they are wearing those “college Mom” tshirts. It hard to even answer people’s questions.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story Amy! It is always good to know that other families don’t follow a straight path in raising their kids and sending them off to college. I have 4 children – 2 in college, 2 in high school. My oldest in starting his 3rd year in what will probably be a 5 year plan. He fell apart last semester and is retaking all of his courses due to a difficult breakup with a girlfriend, and serious issues with his sister’s mental health. His sister/our daughter would be starting her sophomore year, but we have forced her to take at least a “gap semester” to work through serious depression, extensive alcohol and substance use, and legal issues that resulted from those choices. Now we await the result of a mental health and chemical dependency assessment and court mandated follow through which could be “continue with doctors and counselors”, out patient rehab, or even in patient care. It was a very difficult year trying to get our arms around her choices, and pulling her close to remove friends who were bad influences, and just the temptations to self medicate her depression. I see all the Facebook posts of parents so excited for their kids, and I am left feeling sad, knowing we aren’t going to experience that. And yet, I completely believe that God has a master plan and perfect timing for my daughter and that somehow good will come of these challenges. At least that is my hope as we wait to see how it develops. I am learning how to trust God and to let go of my own “perfect plan” for my kids, holding tight to the knowledge that God loves them even more than I do, and can do immeasurably bigger things with their lives than I can even imagine!

  4. This story happens more often than most people realize. Thank you for being honest and sharing your story so others will know they are not alone. The most important thing we can can do is love and support our children while they “find themselves” – it takes some longer than others!

  5. Thank you and blessings to you. In addition to the letting go factor is the feeling that you as a parent are not doing enough to help – my brain in constant research, prayer, worry mode…constantly. Can I somehow force him to seek therapy? Is he so depressed with no way out? And then the sun comes up, he’s home, still in school, still employed. My son will be 21 in a few weeks and there are moments when I see glimpses of confidence and I love you mom escapes his lips. I have asked him to move out for his continual bad habits and I pray that he will eventually find his purpose and place in this world. Sorry for the long reply, but maybe I just needed to know I / he is not alone. Praying for a successful semester for your son.

  6. Yep, did that last May. Not everything your son went through, but you DO have to leave the dorm and go to class… So my son joined the National Guard and last November he went to basic training, and then he went to tech school, and he came home in June and this year he’s going to community college. We aren’t paying for it, because he had almost a full ride to the big university. What he discovered at tech school is that when he HAS to go to class every day, he graduates at the top of his company… I think he’s a little more motivated this year. At least I hope so. But university was too big and too much and he had no friends to help, and he was 12 hours from home. New path, new route, and he’ll figure it out. Just keep moving forward.

  7. Do be proud of him. He is incredibly strong. All that social pressure that is fueling your disappoint, he feels it too, but stringer because he is too young nit to see that as truth. But his truth is different. My daughter decided not to go to 4 year university on our drive to orientation. She announced at her graduation party, amid college gear gifts, that she would be going to community college. Unbelievably brave. Was I disappointed? You betcha! Am I so proud? Undeniably!! When you look at those other kids going off to university, ask yourself if it’s their choice really? Would they be strong enough to say, this isn’t MY path?

  8. We had our daughter all moved in and she started preseason for her sport and decided she just didn’t have the fire in the belly. So she quit the team, unenrolled(classes hadn’t started yet), packed up her car and headed home. We were super disappointed but actually kind of proud she had the self awareness to recognize she just wasn’t ready. She’s in CC this semester and will get back in the saddle next fall. It’s their life, after all! Best wishes to you and your son!

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