Graduating and Growing Up

We often anticipate the milestones of our children’s lives with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Among these significant moments, graduations stand out as a time of profound transition, not just for our children but for us as well! It’s a juncture where joy and sorrow intertwine, where the pride of witnessing our child’s accomplishments collides with the realization that our role in their lives is evolving.

One of our clinicians shared her personal perspective of navigating the milestones of adolescence with her own children:  

I remember when my older daughter was getting ready for her 8th grade promotion. I was struck with so many feelings, but the one thing I could not get out of my head was: Wow, does time fly! Now, as I watch my second daughter prepare for her 8th grade promotion, those same feelings come flooding back, but I know I’ve been here before. They seem so grown up in 8th grade, yet next year they will be the littlest ones on campus again.  The mix of conflicting emotions runs rampant.  I have enjoyed the time on campus, volunteering in classrooms, talking with teachers, knowing their school community and at the same time have also dreaded those trips to the school office, the call from the support staff, the tears that at times accompany homework and friendship struggles.    

Graduation represents change, and change can often bring anxiety. For 8th graders, it’s going to a new school, being in High School, saying goodbye to friends and getting ready to make new ones.  When you graduate High School, you are ready to leave the safety of your parents home and community and venture off to college.  Parents have to accept that their once babies are now adults. 

Here is a list of the main takeaways I’ve collected along the journey of motherhood that have allowed me to show up for my children AND my clients in new ways.  I hope they will be helpful for you as well!  

  1. Acknowledge the Complexity of Emotions: Graduation triggers a whirlwind of feelings for both parents and children. It’s normal to experience a range of emotions, from pride and happiness to sadness and worry. Recognizing and accepting these conflicting emotions is the first step towards finding acceptance of the change.
  2. Reflect on Personal Experiences: Our own experiences of graduation and separation from family can significantly influence how we react to our child’s milestone. As I mentioned from my own experience, I find that the passage of time is hard for me to cope with. By addressing unresolved emotions in ourselves, we can better support our children as they navigate their own journey.
  3. Redefined Roles and Relationships: Graduation marks a transition in our parent-child dynamic. As our children become more independent, we may grapple with a sense of loss and uncertainty about our evolving roles. It’s an opportunity to redefine our relationship with our children and reignite connections within the family unit. By embracing this new phase with openness and adaptability, we can foster deeper bonds within our loved ones.
  4. Supporting Our Children: While we navigate our own emotions, it’s essential to create a supportive environment for our children. Shielding them from our struggles may come from an instinct to protect them. But in actuality, opening up and being vulnerable with our teens allows them to feel safe in expressing their own feelings and aspirations and the opportunity to learn how to handle these emotions. By offering encouragement, reassurance, and a listening ear, we empower our children to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

In conclusion, the journey of parenthood is a profound and ever-evolving experience, marked by moments of joy, sorrow, and growth. As we witness our children’s graduation, let us embrace the complexity of our emotions, reflect on our past experiences, and navigate this transition with vulnerability and resilience. In doing so, we not only honor our children’s achievements but also embark on a new chapter of our own journey as parents. The changes and transitional periods can be intimidating, but they grant us the gift of opportunities for growth!

If you find these changes to be particularly challenging, or if you see that your teen may need support through the process, we are here to help. It’s not easy to undergo such transitions on your own! Though all of these worries and anxieties are normal, we are here to help you navigate these new thoughts and feelings. We can help you to determine if additional interventions are needed, remember that you are not alone! Call us at (408)628-0532 to schedule an intake appointment today!