A Daughter’s Reaction

5 Nov

I was hesitant about showing my daughter my blog post from last week.  After all, by publicly confessing that a part of me wants her to attend a brand name college, I was going against what I had assiduously preached to her.  How was she going to react?  Was she going to be disappointed, feel betrayed, or become confused even?  I imagined her turning to me with reproach in her eyes and recrimination in her voice, perhaps accuse me of being disingenuous or duplicitous.  Worse yet, was this going to put additional pressure on her, the very thing I wanted to prevent?  A friend who had read the post beforehand urged me to share it with my daughter for those reasons.  So as she read my post, I watched her face anxiously for her reaction.

When she finished, she turned to me and said, “Ok.”

Ok.  That was it?  Ok?  I asked again, just to make sure I heard correctly.

“Are you ok with this?”

“Yeah,” she answered.  I started to explain my post, about why I was feeling conflicted between what I was telling her and how I felt, but that I really, really believed in what I was saying to her.

“Uh huh,” she replied.  “This is about you, not me.”

With that statement she drew a healthy boundary line separating her mother’s neuroses from her own.  I was also relieved because I had already spent much time writing and re-writing the post trying to strike the right tone.  But then she had some advice for me:

“You should end on a positive note.”  So as she sat next to me, patiently waiting for me to finish up so she could use the computer, I tried out different endings.  I read them out loud and looked to her for her approval.  When she finally nodded, I knew I was done.


I am grateful for readers’ public and private email comments on last week’s post.  When some of you wrote that you share similar feelings, I felt comforted knowing that I was not alone. I also don’t understand how this works, but by writing about it and putting it out there, I have felt less twisted up inside.  In lighter moments I wonder, is this how recovery groups work?  Maybe I can start Ivy League College Anonymous: “Hello my name is _____ and I am addicted to brand name colleges.”

But seriously, I’m not so optimistic to think that I will be completely free from desiring the prestigious name.  At least for now – this week – it has less power over me.  And like most recovery programs, it’s a one-day-at-a-time thing.



One Response to “A Daughter’s Reaction”

  1. Seth November 5, 2010 at 9:43 PM #

    Ah, the siren song of ‘name’ colleges. My idol of choice, I confess it freely. I can only commiserate… and praise you for raising such a wise and insightful daughter. She understands what it means to set healthy boundaries long before many do. That’s something they don’t teach in most colleges, I gather. But then, imparting wisdom was never college’s long suit, was it?

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