Bye Bye Baby: Parents Sending Their Kids to College
Ocean Township resident Marie Acampora was hoping she'd eventually become a pro at sending her kids off to college and handling the emotional circus that comes along with it, but as her fourth and last child gets ready to leave for school in Rhode Island, she admits it hasn't gotten any easier.
"I did have a rule that they couldn't go further than a five-hour drive, so she just about made that cutoff," Acampora said while chuckling.
But what she really wanted to do was cry as she talked about her "baby" leaving home, a situation countless New Jersey parents will be dealing with over the next couple weeks.
Her daughter Elizabeth, 18, wasn't ashamed to admit she's excited to finally be on her own, but she understands why her mother is upset.
"(The school) recommended two weeks no contact whatsoever, but I don't think that'll be happening," she said.
"We're not doing that!" her mother interrupted.
Acampora and her husband, for the first time in decades, will be alone in the house when Elizabeth starts college in September. They've had a taste of that life a few times this summer, and it'll take some getting used to.
"We sat here with these two pathetic little containers of Chinese food, and we're just sitting there, looking at each other going, 'This is the new normal. This is it,'" she said.
According to Dr. Steven Tobias, director of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown, parents should have no shame in their emotions when a sending a kid off to school. It's the "biggest transition" for both a parent and a child.
"Ultimately, it's a very positive transition," Tobias said. "It's a necessary transition."
And for those dealing with what's known as "empty nest syndrome," Tobias noted it's important to focus on the positives. Parents should take pride in the fact that they've prepared a child or children to take such a major step, and they should enjoy the freedom and extra time they're now getting for the first time in years.
Acampora said the closeness of her family has "gotten her out of bed" each morning, now that three of the four children are out of the house for good.
"Not a day goes by where I don't get a text or a phone call from one or all of them," she said. "That really helps…because these kids are my life."