first child going to university


Is your child starting university? My child is starting university and I’m emotional! Parents, you are feeling so many different emotions right now as your child goes off to college or university. I didn’t have a chance to write this last year, when my son was about to start the first year of university… and as I watch others see their first child going to university or college, I’m reminded of our journey.

You’ll find yourself filled with a mix of emotions about this new phase of life for you, as well as the adventure your child is about to embark on. Whether your child is going to university or college and will live on campus, or will remain living at home and commuting, your experience may be similar. One thing is certain; you’ll be reflecting on all you’ve done to raise your child to get to this pivotal point in their lives, this remarkable milestone of entering college/university years.

My Child is Starting University! Did I do enough?

As you both enter this new phase of life, you may be left highly emotional and asking yourself:

Have I prepared them for being on their own?

Have I given enough guidance for them? To make their own good decisions? To distinguish right from wrong?

Have I instilled values and principles that truly matter?

Will they make wise choices?

Are they responsible, resilient, and self-sufficient?

Have all the lessons we’ve given taken root?

Did we raise them well enough for them to face all that university life will present?

All the emotions coming rushing.

It’s only natural to feel emotional when your child is starting university or going away to college. Now, I feel lucky (selfishly) that my son accepted an offer from the University of Toronto, which means he is living at home and commuting. Had he chosen a different program, he may have opted to attend a university away from home but what he’s studying makes the most sense to remain in Toronto. So I can only imagine the additional feelings of moving your child into a dorm room, miles away with likely no new friends (yet), having to say goodbye and then leaving them behind as you drive home.

Though excited and thrilled for him, I’d also be devastated to be apart. I’d feel like a huge part of my heart was living outside of my body until the next long weekend where we’d be reunited.

Feelings of loss.

No matter how positive you try to be, parents are going to experience feelings of loss; a life change you know one day would come, but you never can fully prepare for until you experience it first-hand.  

What strikes parents the most is that overpowering thought that “nothing will ever be the same again.” Sure, your child will return home for weekends and holidays, but they’ll forever be departing once more. The newly gained independence into adulthood is so enticing that they may never go back to living under their parents’ roof. That probable reality can be overwhelming because you’re one step closer to having an empty nest… and then the feelings of “where did the time go” take over.

While we experience moments of nostalgia and sadness as our children grow older, we are equally excited to witness them embrace this thrilling chapter of their lives. They’ll be forging new friendships, gaining cool experiences, and assuming greater independence and responsibility.

Also feeling concerned.

And yet as parents, it’s only natural to also harbor concerns. University represents a pivotal social stage in a young adult’s life. Alongside huge academic pressures, there are peer influences and increased responsibilities. The teenage years can be a challenging and awkward phase. Teenagers crave acceptance, freedom, and independence, but they can also succumb to peer pressure and stumble into adult situations they might not be prepared for. 

Our kids will eventually encounter the stark realities of the adult world… and as parents, we worry! No matter how much you prepare, you’re never quite ready for them to leave behind their youth under your guidance. To parents, it feels like their childhood has sped by so quickly. We wish we had more time to revel in the carefree days before watching our young adults grapple with the academic pressures of university, hunting for part-time jobs, and moving further into adulthood.

For me personally, I often yearn for more moments together as mom and son. If only time could stand still for a while. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was his age, embarking on my own university journey?

Go off and explore, child.

Alas, it’s now his turn… to get out into the world as a young adult and embark on his own adventures and experiences. I’m proud to say that I believe my child is far more prepared for university than I was. He is armed with the skills and knowledge he needs to thrive in this new chapter of his life.

Go off, my child, and have the best time… enjoy your youth, be smart and have fun. You can do whatever you set your mind to do… work hard, be good to others and gentle with yourself, and you will succeed. The world is your oyster!


My Child is Starting University and Here’s Why I’m Emotional!

My Child is Starting University and Here's Why I'm Emotional!