Our daughter graduated from UMass Amherst last May and while it’s been great to have her home, it has been a major transition: for her and for me! Her dad seems to be the only one who has seamlessly eased back into our three-person household.
Our daughter never looked back when she left for college. Perhaps primed for separation by being at overnight camp, she was excited to be on her own. Fast forward to the end of May 2017! Our independent daughter is now living at home, working as a server at a restaurant and sending out resumes for positions that utilize her new degrees. Because she leaves for work hours after I arrive at my office and she comes home long after I am asleep, our initial mode of communication was texting. That led to most of my communications targeting what she was not doing at home or inquiring about something. Thank goodness, our daughter felt comfortable giving me that feedback.
Living together again has been a journey. I’ve had to learn to not ask so many questions, trusting her judgment and ability to do what she believes she needs, including how many positions she’s applied to and whether she’ll be home for dinner (the latter is hard for a Jewish mother who wants her daughter to eat!); and she’s learned that my ways of interacting (all those questions) come from a place of wanting her to not miss a job opportunity and wanting to take care of her.
My advice for other families is to be sensitive to the transition. It’s okay to admit that the transition is hard for you but, for your student, it is probably harder. They not only went from living on their own to being with their families again but also they left many friends that most likely they will never be so near again (and certainly not in one place together). And for our daughter, she left Amherst and UMass (a city unto itself!) and returns to a town of 17,000 far from many of her college friends. Huge transitions and huge losses!
There is life after college for your student and life after college for the family, but it is one big transition first which requires time, some compromise, readjustment, and understanding – nothing that won’t resolve overtime. So enjoy the new adult relationship.
Seena S. Franklin, is a member of the UMass Amherst Parent Association Advisory Council, parent of a May 2017 graduate, alumna and resident of Tiverton RI.