A Letter to My Daughter Who is Starting College (In 16 Years)

Viv turns two next month, and I’m already panicked by the thought that she will not always live under my roof.   To help calm my fears, I’ve drafted a letter full of sound parental wisdom that I plan to give my daughter when it’s time for her to leave the nest. 

Dear Viv,

Tomorrow, you’re headed off to college.  Your Dad and I are so fucking proud of you.  What, you didn’t know mom dropped F-bombs?  I’ve been saving them up until you left the house.  Your poor Dad is going feel like he’s living with Sam Kinison.

Since your high school years were not nearly as tortured and awkward as your mother’s, perhaps you will not feel the need to go full Girls-Gone-Wild bananas in college like I did, but just in case, here are some helpful guidelines:

Do not drink the punch.  It’s flammable and toxic and boys have most definitely peed in there.  If you must drink, stick with beer, which will hopefully fill you up before you can poison yourself.

Please don’t do drugs.  But if you’re going to try drugs, do like mom always taught you at Whole Foods and buy organic.

When you go out at night, always use the buddy system.  (Your buddy is a nice girl from your dorm.  Preferably a Mormon.)  When that cute lacrosse player wants to show you the roof of his fraternity house, ask yourself, is my buddy here?  No?  Then go find her and walk home together.

No naked photos.  If some boy you like really needs a permanent record of your boobs, suggest that he draw you from life, Titanic style.  He supplies the diamond.

Make friends with girls.  Guys can also be terrific friends, but until the When Harry Met Sally theory of gender relations is formally disproven, some of those friendships may be lost to unrequited feelings or bad kissing.  Girls are for life.

Speaking of permanence, I hear tattoo removal is quite painful.

Don’t automatically skip the opening band.  The Beastie Boys once opened for Madonna.

If someone offers you a chance to march on Washington for a cause you believe in, go.  This rarely happens after college, and never again does it come with a shiny bus and matching t-shirts.

Courses like philosophy, art history and literature will open your mind, unveil the beauty in the world and make you really good at crossword puzzles.  That said, it wouldn’t hurt to take an accounting class.

I know it’s more convenient, but remember that texting will never be as satisfying as an in-person conversation. Would you rather have a pizza described to you, or delivered to your door?

And one more thing I learned in college a few times over: a broken heart feels like the end of the world, but it’s just the beginning – as well as the foundation for all the best songs and poetry.

Viv, I hope you’ll take some of this advice to heart, but whether you do or not, I’ll still be there whenever you need me.  Once upon a time I knew a lot about great novelists and boys.  I can still talk with some authority about boys. (Or should you fall in love with girls, I’m a quick study.)

I’m so excited for you.  As it says in our storybook, I love all that you will be, and everything you are.

Love you madly,


This entry was posted in My Family, Parenthood and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Melissa meyer
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink


    • Posted December 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Melis xo

  2. Mailisha Chesney
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Great post! My youngest daughter turns two on Monday, so I’m right there with you! But (in 16 years) when you edit this draft and really hand it over to her, might I suggest the following addition? “P.S. It’s okay if you fall in love with girls, too. I may not know shit about it, but I’m here for you. BTW, can we still also talk about boys?” LOL

    • Posted December 6, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      I thought about that and got stuck. Thanks to your comment I’ve actually updated the post – hope you don’t mind me cribbing!

  3. Epstein'd Mother
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    You plagerized that from the letter you received in 1988.

  4. Posted December 6, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Brilliant! My kids are starting college even sooner than Viv — in 15 years! HELP!!!!!!
    Jerry recently posted..Ultimate Parenting Smackdown! Why the Anti-Time Out People are Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!My Profile

    • Posted December 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I hope you’re still blogging about it by then…I will need all the advice I can get!

  5. Rachel
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    She’s going to ask “who’s Sam Kinison?”

    • Posted December 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      I feel it’s my duty to inject her upbringing with arcane bits of pop culture, largely from the 80’s.

  6. Posted December 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m using the wonders of technology to cut and paste this letter at this very moment. I’m making some minor edits (Richard Prior for Sam Kinison, one of my kids is black.) And then I’m signing my name and never admitting a thing.

    This was brilliant.
    Kristine Castagnaro recently posted..Mgazi Puts Her Foot DownMy Profile

    • Posted December 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Richard Pryor would have been funnier. Mi letter es su letter.

  7. Danielle
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    That’s beautiful. I think you have a tremendously lucky daughter! No matter how ill or well prepared that letter leaves her, it will certainly tell her that you are always there for her no matter the situation. Well done!

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much! I am a tremendously lucky mom.