Some time during my first semester in the men’s dormitory at Cornell (in those days co-ed dorms were mere fantasies), the guys on the floor began talking about their parents. The more we talked, the more we came to value all that our parents had done for us. Mix this new awareness with some homesickness and the result often was a letter or call home. (We had no phones in our rooms and cell phones were science fiction; we stood in line to use the one public telephone in the hall. The wait was not too long because long-distance charges were steep back in the day of regulated telecommunications.) In my case it was a letter. My parents saved the letter I wrote, re-reading it at times when my appreciation was not so evident.
Going off to college clearly stirred renewed affection and appreciation for parents. I have never seen or heard this phenomenon discussed in print or at professional conferences. But it was very real to those of us in Founders Hall, Ithaca, back in 1966.
I was reminded of this by a father who told me recently that his estranged son initiated more contact with him in the first two weeks of college than he had in the prior two years. The boy clearly seeks to reclaim his identity as a child with two parents.
Parents with estranged relationships with their children should take heart in this phenomenon. If your children attend college away from home, this may give you an opportunity to renew ties with them. Read the article on Huffpost.