Dear Harlan: I wanted to offer a comment on the letters you’ve shared from inconsolable parents who have children who have gone to college. What self-centered, possessive, insecure people they appear to be. They should encourage their offspring to reach out for sensible new friends and experiences. They should build a supportive adult friendship with their children, a friendship with elastic ties, not chains. Please help these parents be positive, not whining adults.
— 94 Years of Experience
Dear 94 Years of Experience: You tell it like it is. And you have earned that right. Your generation wasn’t about counseling, emoting and self-expression — you just got through it. You survived the Great Depression as a child. You’ve lived through wars. You’ve seen the world dramatically change. I understand how you can see these parents as less than supportive, but I see the opposite. I see parents who are willing to be vulnerable and honest. I see parents who give themselves permission to feel emotions and share them. These parents aren’t holding their children back. It’s the opposite. They are expressing what it feels like to watch a child grow up. They are modeling healthy behaviors by expressing their feelings. I see this as positive, supportive, encouraging and loving. Self-expression and positive mental health go hand in hand. It might be uncomfortable to read, but it’s healthy to share. These parents love their children and miss them. I don’t call it whining; I call it sharing, loving and being authentic.