Parting is bittersweet, but brings a chance to growSoundings asked our University Communications interns, Geri Massangale and Stephanie Lonzak, to discuss how their relationships with their parents changed in college.
Maintaining family traditions is important, even in college,
says Stephanie Lonzak, center, with her parents Jane and
George Lonzak. Stephanie says when she is home from
college, Friday night is still family movie night.
By Stephanie Lonzak
WWU University Communications Intern
Leaving to go to college was just as daunting for my parents as it was for me. They were feeling a mix of emotions Ė worry, excitement, stress, happiness and a lot of sadness.A team of three
My parents, George and Jane Lonzak from Tacoma, stress that it has gotten easier over the years since they dropped me off four years ago. However, they still struggle with it at times. I am an only child and my mom says it was a sudden change. But we still remain a team of three like we always have. During their first few weeks of being empty nesters, my dad said they were sure to be there for each other, but also found comfort in being around long-time friends who were going through the same situation.
I remember them dropping me off. We made a weekend of it in Bellingham and stayed at a hotel the day before. It was a relatively nice day so the three of us visited Boulevard Park. It was bustling with people, it was sunny, the water was gorgeous and the Frappuccino from Woodís Coffee was great.
It should have been a happy experience right? Wrong. As the three of us were sitting on a bench, coffee in hand and looking out at the water, I looked over and saw a tear in my dadís eye. This was the first time I had ever seen him cry, which set my mom off and in turn set me off too.
From Geri Massengale: "My parents say what really changed was my independence."
My parents want to let you know that feeling sad and even crying is a natural occurrence during this time. Itís a difficult point in a parentís life, they said, but you have to remember that youíve worked toward this point for the last 18 years.
But after being away from home for a while the relationship between me and my parents has not changed; the three of us still love each other just the same as when I lived at home. We talk often and I go home at least once a month. During those visits I make sure to balance time between friends there and my parents. Our family tradition includes having pizza and watching a movie together on Friday nights. When I go home, I make sure I donít plan anything for those evenings.Stay in touch, send care packages
My mom suggests that you focus on the positives of the situation, like realizing that this is an opportunity to let your child learn and grow. Keeping your kids updated about happenings and changes at home is important too. You want them to know that even though they arenít home, theyíre still being thought of and considered in decisions.
My parents also stayed in touch by sending me care packages. My dad says it was as fun for them as it was for me. I remember getting packages of Top Ramen and candy every once in a while, especially close to finals week; I was always very grateful for these packages.
Throughout the years my parents made sure to refer to Bellingham as school and to call Tacoma home when theyíre talking to me. This simple act gives me great comfort in knowing I can come home whenever I need to. Even though I have taken up a different place of residence for the time being, they never changed my room into something else. They wanted to make sure I always knew I had a place at home and I always did.