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Tips on College Success (for Parents)

  • Tonya Ruiz Contributing Writer
  • Updated May 11, 2023
Tips on College Success (for Parents)

 I left my baby this week. Lest you think I’m a bad mother – my baby is nearly six feet tall, rides a unicycle, plays the guitar and often gets mistaken for Zac Efron (A teen pop star, in case you have to ask, like I did). Jeremy is the fourth and last of our brood.

His dad and I took him to college, put his luggage in his dorm room, and drove away. Of course, I cried. The ugly cry. It’s hard to love and nurture a wee one for all those years, guide him through his tender adolescence and sprouting teens then not be around to micromanage his young adulthood. Mothers are nurturers and controllers. We can’t stop, even if we wanted to, which we don’t.

Keeping in Touch

My husband wanted to call the boy-man the first night he was gone.

“No way, we can’t do that. He’ll think we’re bothering him.” I said.

“Okay,” my husband relented. “Then text him.”

Texting did seem more casual. He replied quickly, too. “I’m fine.”

So in the lunch room at work, I told about my crying as I left the college and how my husband wanted to call Jeremy every day and I told him it wasn’t a good idea.

“I don’t understand,” my twenty-something co-worker asked, “You cried about leaving him, but you don’t want to call him?”

Oh, I want to call him. I want to know all about his seven roommates, what they’re serving for dinner in the gross cafeteria, if he’s made any new friends, and if he’s washing his hands to protect himself from the incurable viruses of the seven roommates, gross cafeteria, and new friends. I want to kidnap him and sneak him home. But what I want and what my boy-man needs are two different things. My job was to raise my children to be self-sufficient; training them to brush their baby teeth, helping them learn to make their own grilled cheese sandwiches, and teaching them to sort the red laundry from the white. Those were all steps toward Independence Day.

God is Watching Over Them

I cried the first time I had to pry Jeremy’s tiny hands loose and detach his Velcro arms from around my neck so I could leave him in the church nursery. I’m still learning to let go because it’s the right thing to do for him and for me. I’m the proud Mama bird, pushing the fledgling, not to the nursery, but out of the nest.  “Fly little birdie, fly!”

One piece of sage advice has helped me time and time again. Many years ago, the mother of five grown daughters told me, “You can’t always be there for your children, but the Lord is.” Those words of wisdom have gotten me through the raising and releasing of four children. It soothed me when they were across the ocean on mission trips, it comforted me when they were up to no-good, and it’s what has carried me through the departures as they set forth for the opportunities and challenges of young adulthood.

I know Jeremy’s first year of college will be full of adjustments, mistakes, triumphs, stretching, joys, and heartaches – and that’s just for me – imagine what Jeremy will experience. I miss Jeremy but I sleep well at night because I know that the Lord is there for him.

Tips to College Success for Parents

Limit your phone calls. Give them a chance to be on their own.

Let them make their own decisions and mistakes.

Send care packages with their favorite things.

Take up a new activity or revisit an old one. (We need to keep busy stretching and growing, too.)

Remember, you can’t always be there for your kids, but the Lord is.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Tonya Ruiz is a pastor’s wife, mom, and grandma who loves to encourage others by sharing how she has juggled and struggled her way through life. Check out her ministry at:

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