Many families will soon be celebrating high school graduation. After 18 years of growing together, parents and students will be experiencing changes that include separation.
After the joy of graduation ceremonies and parties, summer will come to an end, and the class of 2016 will be off to college, full-time jobs, traveling, starting families, living independently, starting a business, or deciding what to do.
For parents, it’s hard knowing that their priceless treasures will be leaving home. They are proud to have raised a child who is productive and responsible and ready to be successful on his/her own.
Although happy, they could have feelings of loss, fear and sadness. They will miss the laughter, the involvement with school and friends, the connectedness, the noise and even the fighting. They could feel very out of balance; the primary object of their time, energy and concerns will leave their home soon.
Being the graduate is also difficult. It is stressful when people ask, “What are you going to do?” Or “What college are you attending?” College entrance exams are stressful.
Many seniors don’t know what they want to study or how they want to make a living and many don’t get the college, scholarships or jobs they desire.
At 18, they are expected to go from a secure nest to the unknown. It is not easy leaving a peaceful, loving nest. It is simpler to leave a place of turmoil. Therefore, many families have a rough senior year; they unconsciously ruffle the nest.
Parents of seniors often prepare for separation. Some start new hobbies, lose weight, get a new job, take up exercise programs, clean closets or garages, think about college classes for themselves, etc. Tweaks in routines can soften the empty nest blues.
Seniors also plan for leaving. They might change friends, begin dressing differently, become more outspoken, rearrange or redecorate their bedrooms, pack boxes in January, spend more or less time with relatives, etc. Change is especially challenging when it involves those we love.
We might like to keep our kids safe and protected forever, but they deserve to make mistakes, learn lessons and design their lifestyles. Parents benefit when kids leave home by fewer daily responsibilities and more time.
I admire, envy and have empathy for parents and seniors as they enter this time of endings and beginnings. Enjoy all it has to offer – it only comes once.
Until the next time: Live while you live!
(Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of My Clients…My Teachers, and the blogger and en-
courager of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.)
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