Joy, Sadness and the First Time Off to College

Joy, Sadness and the First Time Off to College

It’s a funny thing as a parent to watch your child go off to college for the first time. All at once it’s a moment of pride, joy, sadness and even fear.

This past week my wife and I dropped our daughter off at college for the first time. It really was an exhilarating experience all around: the months and years of planning finally coming to completion.

My daughter, on her part, confessed to dealing with a variety of emotions: sadness in having to say goodbye to friends, some whom she may never see again; others with whom the relationships will remain but differ because of distance.

Fear is in the mix as well—fear of the unknown. Will I find my place in the vastness of a university population? Will I be able to handle the academic pressures and challenges? Those questions are tempting her to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over her head.

My wife and I must deal with the sadness of not seeing our child every day—missing her cheery voice and positive attitude about life in our household. Never mind the fear that a father has knowing the intentions of some may harm his child. Not the mention the “what ifs?” of life that could happen, and my inability to respond and protect her because of the distance between us.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

As we drove up to the campus after our long trek to the school, I came to an awareness that God has set the example for us in many ways for these times of transition. As the Father sent his son into the world, I can imagine there was a similar dynamic going on. As Jesus fulfilled his mission, there is evidence that a relational dynamic between father and son was being exemplified. Remember, as Jesus sweat blood in the garden, he focused on the reality of challenge and sacrifice coming to the fore. How did he handle it? How did the Father handle it?

I’ve come to a conclusion of which I’m sure to expand on over time. But, for now, and for those few moments before I said goodbye to my daughter, it will suffice. My conclusion is this: Trust is the key factor in transitional moments in life, no matter the emotion or the obstacle.

Trust opens us up to the new adventure, and positions us for a new reality filled with possibility. There will be sacrifice, there may be pain, but providence is sure. God is present and walks with us.

Featured image: Salvatore Vuono


About the Author

Matt is the manager of the Media Production Department at Franciscan Media. He serves as executive producer on all audio and video products produced.
  • Jennifer

    This is a lovely reflection! Good luck to your daughter. She’s going to do great!

  • Jeanrummelhoff

    Thank you for this.  My daughter has graduated from college and just started a job in another city.  I will take my son to college on Saturday.  Your words are most helpful as he and I start another stage in our lives.

  • Anonymous


    Glad my words can be of some help.  I appreciate your company on this journey through your comment.  Somehow the awareness that you share in the same moment of transition makes my own experience an easier proposition.  Keep placing yur trust in God on behalf of your kids, and I pledge to do the same.