Graduation quickly approaches. Is your senior (or junior who will be at this point a year from now) prepared for a life in the world? Are you prepared for such a big change?
“Launching,” as it’s called, can create feelings of excitement and dread, happiness and fear, joy and anxiety in both teens and their parents. You’ve all been aiming for this day her whole life, and now it’s right around the corner. What’s the best way to face this important time?
Actually, there may be no “best way.” Every graduate, every parent, every family is different. Pay attention to how your graduate is facing this important milestone, and pay attention to your own feelings.
- Letting go. You’ve been practicing letting go for nearly two decades: the first day of school; the first sleepover at a friend’s house; the first solo car trip. Even if your graduate isn’t moving out, increasing independence should be his goal and yours. He’s an adult, or soon will be.
- Holding on. You and your graduate both need to verbalize that she’s always going to be a part of the family; graduation doesn’t change that. Even if she is moving out, she will benefit from the knowledge that she will always have your love and support.
How to find the balance? Make time (if you haven’t already) to address a few important topics together, so your graduate will know your expectations, and you will know his.
- Education. Is higher education after high school an expectation? A hope? If so, what type and when? Is taking time before further education an option?
- Money. What are expectations regarding continuing parental financial support, whether school is an option or not? Who will pay for rent, food, cell phone, computer, books, etc.?
- Living arrangements. Is the graduate moving out or continuing to live at home? If staying at home, is she expected to contribute to household expenses and chores?
- Communication. How will you stay in touch if he moves out? How will you grant independence if he stays home?
- Healthcare. Investigate health insurance options. Your young adult needs to be aware of what health care coverage she has – on or off campus. She should carry a copy of the insurance card, know her allergies and medications, her medical and family medical history. He needs to be up to date on Immunizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend more vaccines than most campuses require, so check out the above links whether or not he’ll be continuing in school. Have a discussion about what to do in case of a health emergency. Here’s a good link from Rowan University about what college students need to bring for the best healthcare.
- Help. When there are bumps in the road of growing independence, how will you help negotiate the difficulties together?
Create an environment for listening to your grown-up-child’s hopes and fears. It’s an important time for all of you, and you will navigate it together.
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