On June 12, the College and Alumni Program department hosted a "What's Next?" panel for rising college freshmen and their parents. Schuler intern Ed Ciobanu welcomed parents with the following speech.
Parents, you are all superheroes. Go ahead, pat yourself and each other on the back. You deserve it.
Take a moment now to inhale deeply and slowly exhale. Think back to where your child was four years ago entering high school and where he or she now stands. What dreams did you have for them? Have any of those been fulfilled? You have witnessed your children grow from adolescence into young adulthood. With that comes an increased level of independence. This is the time for young adults to learn about life; this is the time for both successes and mistakes. Yes, there will be both and that’s normal. A parent’s natural response is to protect your child from pain. While very admirable to respond in such a way, a young person must be able to work through his/her own troubles. Allowing this to happen is much more difficult from the parents’ perspective. Give your children some room to work through their struggles. You have been the superhero for 17 years now; give your child the opportunity to earn his/her cape.
With that said, don’t completely forget about your children. Some fear that your children may forget about you. Others will leave your child alone until school breaks. You have been that superhero throughout life for a reason. When school becomes too much to bear, you can use your superhuman powers of assurance to calm the fears of your son. Or you can exercise your gift of encouragement to remind your child of her excellence. Your children may feel like they encountered their kryptonite in the form of a class. Adjustments to the new environment may seem paralyzing at first, but you’ve endowed each of them with a few superpowers of their own that they may not have yet discovered.
And remember, your kids still care about you. They may be leaving home, but that is not correlated with the love they have for their family. Similar to how you have worked extremely hard to provide for your children, your son/daughter is now attending a wonderful school in order to provide for you. Their dedication to academics is generated from the hopes of helping the family. You, super-parents, have raised super-children. They’ll need your super-support, but also give your kids a chance to lace up their shoes, tie their cape, and fly into the college experience.
Ed Ciobanu is a rising junior at Williams College. He graduated from Warren Township High School in 2011. Ed is pictured here with Jonny Gonzalez, also a Schuler Scholar at Williams College. You can read a previous post from Ed on our website, where he wrote about choosing to attend a summer bridge program at Williams.