It’s that time of year where kids are graduating from high school. Parents are excited and sentimental. It brings back nostalgic memories of when my oldest son graduated from high school. In the aftermath of graduation, we prepared for him to leave us. He had chosen to attend a college across the country from where we lived.
About that same time, a friend recommended Kami Gilmour’s Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent’s Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly. https://www.amazon.com/Release-My-Grip-Parent%C2%92s-Heart/dp/1470748479. It changed the way I looked at this transition. Did I perform it flawlessly? Nope. However, I did learn some truths and I want to pass them onto other parents. Your kid may be transitioning to a job, a trade school, the military, or a traditional 4-year college or even taking a gap year. The letting-go part is the same. Here are some things to keep in mind as you drop your kid off at college as was my case.
13 truths as you drop your kid off at college…
(Why 13? Because a list of 10 seems too predictable.)
- Wait until you’re in the car to cry. Crying makes them feel worse and apprehensive. Besides, no kid wants to see his mom cry on the sidewalk.
- I text and talk with my son more than when he was under my roof.
- They still need you. You’ll find out soon…
- You are doing the best thing for them. One day they will return. By giving them the freedom to leave, they will be someone who longs for home instead of someone who longs to run away.
- They have the confidence to leave and that means you did such an amazing job of raising them! Applaud yourself!
- You are still their mom, that doesn’t change.
- One day you will find out that your kid is a pretty cool adult. (My friend Craig kept reminding me of this and it’s true!)
- As my son told me, “If you don’t leave, I can’t start my life.” Move out of their way. You’re hindering, not helping.
- Kids don’t grow confident by clinging to you, just like a toddler has to let go in order to walk.
- What if your parents had never let you go?
- As my friend reminded me, I still had people at home counting on me.
- Kami Gilmour in her book chides parents for stealing their kids’ joy. This is a joyful time and your resistance to letting them go steals that joy. Stop being selfish!
- Lose them now or lose them forever. Some of the best advice came from the ABC show The Goldbergs. (https://abc.com/shows/the-goldbergs). On one episode titled, Graduation Day, the father Murray Goldberg, played by Jeff Garlin is trying to console his wife Beverly played by Wendi McLendon-Covey. The usually cranky Murray has sage advice for his wife when she divulges that she is afraid of losing her daughter when she goes off to college. Murray says to her, “I would rather lose her for four short years than hold her back forever.” I needed to hear that and may you do too.
There is good news
Do not despair; it’s not all bad news. They eventually come back for visits and all the things that once annoyed you about them are soon forgotten. You start to trust them more. They communicate better, eventually. You might even get a text or phone call full of appreciation. There will be moments of great pride. You never stop worrying but they prove they can be trusted and get themselves out of tough situations. Don’t forget to applaud them and share in their triumphs and joys. One day down the road, you’ll wonder why you worried.
This is a song that helped me through the transition of my son leaving home….
This is not Goodbye by Sidewalk Prophets
The time has come for you to leave
It’s so hard to let you go
But in this life, I know you have to be who you were made to be
So that in my heart you always will be there
I know we’ll meet again
So let your life begin
‘Cause this is not goodbye
It’s just “I love you” to take with you
Until you’re home again
Listen to this song in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YyIC0RumjQ