I feel I have to tell you how I hope you’ll process this one—and what I hope you do and do not say about it.
I offer it like that regular feature in Harper’s magazine, “Readings.” I want you to not ask any questions or posit any suspicions about where exactly it came from, because that doesn’t matter, and I’m not going to say.
I also want you to understand that though some of this will come off as absurd to you—as it does to me, which is of course why I’m sharing it—as a parent to a new college freshman, I read pretty much all of it with stomach-churning empathy, for Parents Losing Their Minds With Worry and Hope as Their Beloved Child Embarks on Life, Alone.
So, in the spirit of love (mixed with gentle anonymous ridicule, of course)—some entries in a Facebook group for parents of new college freshmen, this fall.
Is anyone else just really disappointed in their student’s experience thus far? My daughter lives in J______ Hall, and it has been one thing after another. The washer didn’t finish the spin cycle and took forever to get that issue solved. It’s hot despite the AC, the printer on the 1st floor has NO paper to be found, other students don’t keep their doors open so there goes making friends, and the girls are not making it to the toilet before they barf after a night of drinking, or just do it right in the middle of the hall.
I get that this is part of the college experience, but to not have a stock of paper for the printer and it’s only the start of the second week seems a bit… unreasonable. We were told not to bring personal printers so we didn’t.
My student is desperate to come home because she hates living at [school] but loves her classes. She was excited for the club fair but then it was rained out and so far no “rain date” has been set that she has seen. She’s tried putting herself out there but nothing has really stuck and the residence hall issues are making her anxiety go off the richter.
Does anyone know how to a request a room change? It’s definitely not working out at all for my granddaughter?
My daughter is in S_____ Hall and the power is out. Is it out in other dorms too?
Is anyone kiddos having issues with dining halls…the wait or quality…
My son thinks he has pink eye. Anywhere he can go on Sunday at This time ?
Long shot but if anyone’s [student] happens to find a pair of glasses could you let me know. My daughter thinks hers fell from her bag walking back to J_____ yesterday from practice at the stadium .
Mad mom post….my son just called to let us know his bike was stolen.
Our daughter is loving most things [at school] but she’s not into parties and is feeling a little lost on weekends. I know several people have posted about this so sorry for the repeat ask but do you have any suggestions? She loves writing (creative writing major), not into sports or crowds, not religious, into social justice/activism… TIA
I guess I am the only pain in the rear parent who gets crap for suggesting that the kid actually gets off [bar strip] before 1am on a night before an early class.
I wish I was as smart / wise / and As worldly as an 18 year old.
My freshman son is taking History Of Rock and Roll and really struggling.
Many of these posts received dozens of heartfelt responses from fellow parents—some advising these folks to “land the helicopter,” and some specifically telling them (for godsakes) to take their kids off the “Life 360” app, so they don’t torture themselves (and their child)—night out, and night out.
And if my wife and I have handled ourselves a little better than some of these folks, it has required daily discipline and constant self-control. I’ll say that the effort it has taken not to over-parent since our daughter went off to college two months ago has been every bit as great and calorie-burning as any effort at parenting, at any other stage of her life.
Thinking hard, about what to say, and how to say it. Training ourselves in a new mindset, and a new relationship with her. Remembering what it was like to be her age. Listening to her so much more, and telling her so much less. Letting her know, just by standing back, that we want her, we trust her, we expect her, to fly.
The letting go requires as much vigilance as it did to keep her from falling down the stairs, as a toddler. (Which she only did once.) But this vigilance is internal, and it’s none of her business. She calls, we answer. She texts, “I miss you,” we text “we miss you, too.” She needs anything, we’re there. But she should also have room to go three days, or three weeks, without thinking much about us, at all—and not have us feverishly demanding to know if they’ve finally stocked the printer on the first floor with paper.
I feel really good about how we’ve handled this stage so far. And I feel great about how she’s handled it. And if I didn’t feel she was doing great? Well, then I wouldn’t be doing so great, either. And there’s no telling who I’d be turning to publicly and haplessly, in the desperation I would surely feel.
In any case: I’ll keep watching this Facebook group for feelings I can relate to—and, I hope, behaviors I can avoid.