Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tips for Senior Parents on "Letting Go"

The time has arrived… your little ‘baby’ is graduating from high school. It seems like just yesterday you were changing his diaper, watching her wobble on her own two feet, and celebrating the loss of his first tooth.

Letting go can be emotional. Below are a few tips to help you adjust to these next few months before your big girl or grown up boy heads off to college.

The emotional roller coaster Recognize that this is a time of ambivalence for all parents. The excitement and joy about opportunities awaiting your child are mixed with waves of nostalgia and a sense of loss. Seek out support from other parents who are going through the same thing. Some parents have held “Letting Go” parties, sharing photos and stories and intense emotions from the present.

The summer before Be prepared to see less of your child this summer. The closer it gets to departure time, the less you can expect to see of him or her. Rising freshmen will likely be spending every waking hour with friends. Allow them this special time together.

Communication: Keep in touch Talk to your child about how you’ll keep in touch. Consider purchasing a “call home card” as a graduation gift, allowing your child to charge directly to you all calls made to home. Review cell phone contracts. Talk about how many hours are reasonable. Of course, e-mail is quick and easy, and most students use it all hours of the day and night. Parents need to be careful not to be a “hovering” e-mailer. Johnny or Suzie will become weary of your contacts if they are too frequent. Plan in advance regarding times for telephone calls. Sometimes voice contact is reassuring.

Send tangible items E-mail and texting are great for informal communication, but students still may love an occasional old-fashioned letter that they can actually touch, feel and re-read. Of course cards, care packages, newspaper clippings, jokes/chuckles . . . all such tangibles are usually appreciated.

Above all else, celebrate your accomplishments as a parent. He graduated from high school. He did it! Which means, YOU DID IT!

Jackie Upton, Director of College Counseling at Greensboro Day School