Mother-Daughter Team Share College Advice for Parents and Students in New Book


Doors Open from Both Sides

When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.

—Alexander Graham Bell

For most of us, going through life’s transitions is like opening new doors. As we open them, we discover surprises, new findings, new challenges, and new fears. Sometimes, we need to close the doors to put closure on matters. Sometimes, we need to work to keep them open.

One major life transition occurs at the stage when the young adult leaves home to go off to college. This transition brings new experiences and challenges for both the parent and the child. Despite having lived under the same roof for a number of years, parents and children inevitably have different perspectives on some aspects of life. Consequently, experiencing the college separation process can affect them in different ways. This book, written by a mother and her daughter, describes how we each saw, felt, and learned from this particular transition. Our two points of view represent both sides of the transition—both sides of the door.

With the transition come phases that have their own joys, their own challenges, and their own fears. The book starts with the senior year of high school and carries the reader through to the senior year in college and beyond, focusing a chapter on each of the transitional phases (“doors”) along the way. Drawing on our own personal journey, as well as experiences shared by other families and counselors, we provide poignant and humorous stories with helpful advice on how to avoid some of the common traps parents and students can fall into during each phase of the transition. This book is most helpful to families when read by both parent and student.

I’ll Miss You Too presents specific insight into what parent and child experience during what family therapists Carter and McGoldrick (1989) call the “launching children and moving on” stage of life. For the young adult leaving the nest, this stage can be a time of excitement, but also confusion and fear. It is also the time for him or her to start to differentiate from the emotional program of the family, formulate personal life goals, and become an independent self.

For parents of the college-bound child, the process of letting go is not new. In a broad sense, parents start to experience the separation process through events such as their child’s stages of toddlerhood, first days of school, and first vacation away from home and family. Despite these early experiences, the sense of loss and separation anxiety can be more pronounced when the young adult child goes off on his or her own—whether to attend college, to take a job away from home, to get married, or to join the service. For the parents left in the empty nest, it is the time to learn to let go, redefine personal identity and relationships, and look ahead to the future as they start to change the relationship with their maturing child.

When young ones leave home, parents realize that they have more personal freedom, but of course, so do their children. From here on, parents will always have less control over the departing child. The maturing young adult feels a growing and sometimes exhilarating sense of freedom. Yet, while perhaps not always recognizing it, they still have an ongoing need for continued support and guidance. The needs and views of the two generations and the temperamental relationship of parent and child can often become challenging. Fortunately, with a mutual commitment to understanding each other, this time of life, despite its stresses, can be rewarding and fulfilling. As Erma Bombeck once wrote in her column:

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents could look at their teenagers and say, “I want you to stay, but you can’t.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teenagers could look at their parents and say, “I don’t want to leave, but I must.” It’s so much better to close the door gently on childhood than to slam it.

For young adults raised with the security of a home and family for seventeen to twenty years, the transition into independence and freedom is a new experience. For parents who devoted the same amount of time to guiding and supporting their children, this change can create a large, empty hole in their everyday lives. There are no formal guidelines for managing emotions during this important transition. Hopefully, what we’ve learned from writing this book can help readers learn how to “close the door gently on childhood.”

I’ll Miss You Too was written with love, sweat, and tears. Together, as mother and daughter, we recalled our personal challenges and assessed how they opened our eyes to our differences and our similarities. We drew from the personal journals we kept over several years and exchanged ideas through telephone contact, emails, and visits. Through this communication, we discovered that while we were both going through the same transition, we faced different types of challenges in dealing with it. Most importantly, we realized that often we made assumptions about what the other was feeling. We eventually learned that many of these assumptions had been wrong. Together, we decided to write a book that could be helpful to others facing the same kind of challenges.

Emotional Beginnings

Thoughts from Mom

September (Journal entry)

My forty-seven years of life have brought challenges, but none has touched my emotions more than the approaching empty-nest syndrome. This stage has been filled with a mixture of joy, excitement, fear, and loneliness. I have become more introspective and questioning about who I am and who I am becoming. Suddenly, I am looking for more meaning to my life. Is this middle age or true growth?

As the mother of an only child (and a single mother for many years), I worked outside the home but considered motherhood my main job and my joy. To me, the empty-nest syndrome was simply a term to describe the phase of life when parents learn to adjust after their children move out. It sounded so simple! For some parents, it meant the freedom of having their personal lives back. Despite this, I rarely found a parent who didn’t feel a sense of uneasiness when approaching this new phase. Whether the parent faces the departure of an only child, a first child, or a last child, the realization begins to set in that life is about to take on a new dimension.

Thoughts from Steff

Leaving home for the first time can be a scary experience. For me, it was both scary and exciting. During most of my senior year of high school, I thought I was ready to go. When I got accepted into my first-choice college, I knew it was the time to go! Doubts soon set in, however, when I thought of all the things I was leaving behind: my familiar day-to-day schedule, special people, personal possessions, and the safety of my bedroom. Most of all, I was leaving my secure life at home. Although these mixed emotions were confusing and bothersome to me, I sensed that the time was right to move on and become more independent.

In high school, we talked a lot about “getting out” in the same way prisoners would talk about escaping from jail. We were ready to go off to college, start a job, meet new people, move out of the house, and be on our own. When the time actually arrived, however, fears surfaced from out of nowhere!

My choice was to go relatively far away to college. I wanted a college that specialized in my academic interests, but I also wanted to have my freedom. I wanted to prove to others that I could make it on my own. Yes, there were fears and doubts, but I felt it had to be done. I think that Mom wanted to have me closer to home, but she didn’t want to stand in my way. At that time, it was important for me to know that I had loving family and friends who supported my decision to move so far from home. With this support, I decided to follow my instincts and my heart. As I look back, I am truly glad I did it.


A Time for Every Season in Life

by Margo

Fall is my favorite season. It has always been a season for special events and challenges in my life. From each of these, I felt a sense of personal growth. I was born in the fall, I left home in the fall, I was married in the fall, I had my baby in the fall, I was divorced in the fall, and my father passed away in the fall. This fall, my daughter will leave home to venture into adulthood.

I believe that, like the seasons of nature, we experience seasons in our lives. As fall arrives this year, the change in color and the loss of leaves represents something more to me. As each leaf falls, it makes me more aware of the beauty and the passing of a very special season of my life—that of raising my child. This stage of motherhood (this “season”) has been a special one, filled with colorful events, learning, and growth. This has been the best time of my life. And just as my favorite season fades and the vibrant leaves fall from the trees, I see this vibrant time of my life fading. I realize that Steffany will soon be leaving home and moving into her adult years, and that I will be losing my role as it has been, as Mom.

I know that winter approaches. And like the bare and silent season of winter, life at home will seem to take a rest. The house will be quiet, my schedule less busy, and my life, as it has been, will be changed. There is a knowing, a faith, that this part of my life will go on, just at a different pace and in a different space in time—just as it should.

At the same time, my excitement soars with what is ahead. Spring brings a newness, freshness, and exhilaration by returning the appearance of life to nature, with lush fullness and color. And I trust that this new phase of my life will bring the same energy and beauty, a new fullness to my everyday life and richness to my relationship with my daughter, as an adult.

I do believe that the seasons change to remind us of our ever-changing lives. Exhilaration, rest, and growth. Always constant, all as it should be. And beyond this space and time, there is the reminder to enjoy the moment. After all, that is all we really have.-by the Authors.

Just in time for graduation season comes the second edition of I’ll Miss You Too: The Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students (ISBN: 9781492615675; APRIL 2015; $14.99 U.S.; College Guide; Trade Paper) by mother-daughter team Margo Ewing Woodacre and Steffany Bane Carey.

I’ll Miss You Too came out of Margo and Steffany’s own experience dealing with the move from high school to college. They discovered that while they were going through the same transition, they faced different types of challenges and were making the wrong assumptions about what the other person was feeling.

Offering an intimate look at their own experiences, plus tips and stories from others who’ve been there, this newly updated edition lays the groundwork for honest, open communication between students and parents on setting expectations, understanding each other’s emotions, and keeping their relationship strong throughout the college years and beyond.

I’ll Miss You Too includes:

  • Graduation—How to handle the summer before college
  • Back-to-School—How to handle the first hours, days, and weeks apart
  • “Trap Doors” that parents and students fall through during the transition to college
  • Tackling Other First-Year Firsts—First visit home, spring break, majors, and studying abroad
  • Empty Nest—How to handle “home quiet home”
  • The Boomerang Student—Dealing with life at home after graduation.

I’ll Miss You Too deals with the emotions and the importance of communication between parent and child during this important life transition.

I received a free copy of this book and found that this is a very helpful and would be great for both parents and graduating seniors! It really is a Must-Read!

You can purchase on and Barnes & Noble.


About the Authors: Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW, has been in the communications field for more than 30 years. Her occupations have included state senator, counselor, college instructor, author, and guest lecturer. Steffany Bane Carey graduated with honors from the University of Miami (Florida) and has spent the majority of her time as a creative director in advertising, a freelance writer for online publications, and is a proud mom herself.

Together, the mother-daughter teams speaks about the emotional and communication challenges of the off-to-college transition to parents, students, and counselors at high schools, colleges, and conferences around the country. Both have appeared on national radio and television, including The O’Reilly Factor. Visit for more information.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to facilitate this feature.


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