August 22, 2013

There are times when I would be best advised not to read an opinion piece, and Michael Gerson’s Aug. 20 op-ed column was one of those [“The hardest goodbye”]. My 28-year-old son, David, is a 2007 graduate of the University of Vermont. He also is an only child. I do not know whether that places an additional burden on David or me.

My sense is that David has the harder job, particularly because his parents are in their 70s. David swears that our advanced age does not worry him, and we do everything we can to encourage him in that belief. But in the back of our minds, we know better. If Mr. Gerson can think of a way of getting us out of this predicament, we would be all ears.

John Starrels, Chevy Chase

Kudos to Michael Gerson for his beautifully written and moving column. After I wiped the tear from my cheek, however, I found myself thinking, “Yes, but. . . .” Don’t we also need to consider the parents who have college-aged children who, for a myriad of reasons, are not able to go away to college? Dropping a child off at college is a clear marker for all involved that the relationship will change. Those of us who don’t have such clear markers can have a much more difficult time negotiating the changing parent-child relationship.

Elizabeth Thomas, Vienna

Plaudits to Michael Gerson for his stellar column on the emotions parents face at times of parting from our children. As a parent preparing for my oldest to start kindergarten and begin the journey that, as Mr. Gerson pointed out, may culminate in a dorm-room goodbye, the column was a powerful reminder about what should be priorities in life. In a world — particularly this region — that tends to value breakneck paces at work, 24/7 hyper-connectivity and professional recognition over family time, I hope Mr. Gerson’s column serves as a wake-up call.

Life is short, particularly that fraction of time in which parents have the privilege of raising their children, in good times and bad. The six years since our oldest was born have flown by, and I have little doubt that the coming dozen will do so similarly. It’s great to see writers such as Mr. Gerson recognize and value family life by being candid in documenting their own emotions.

Nick Manetto, Herndon