Dear Mom of a High School Senior

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Dear Mom of a High School Senior, you are going to be okay. Here’s how I know. I struggled during my son’s high school senior year. I just couldn’t handle the thought of him graduating from high school and going away to college…and being away from me. In the midst of paying college deposits, planning a graduation party, ordering those amazing announcements, taking senior pictures, finalizing the guest list, and gathering all the pictures for a super sentimental slide show, I had many moments when I wanted to do whatever it took to make the time go slower.

I didn’t think I could get through it…but I did, and so will you.

Mom Kissing High School Senior

The Emotions are Working Overtime

There’s so many practical things to do during the last year of high school, each marked with FINAL significance. You want to take it all in, be in the moment, and embrace all the lasts without anticipatory dread, but the bittersweet feelings can be too much to handle. Trying to grasp how you’re feeling about your high school senior graduating soon can be very overwhelming.

Here are SIX Reminders to Embrace During the Emotional Senior Year.

Be Confident in the Work You Did.

I told my therapist I worry most about my child’s future choices. And she asked me if I felt confident in the work we did as parents for 18 years. Could I trust our guidance would carry with him?

You may be thinking that your child will never be able to survive without you. Or perhaps, you without them. But the truth is, you put in the work. Some 18ish long years of work. Whether you think so or not, that time was well spent and all those lessons and behaviors you modeled are deeply embedded and will be there when your child needs them. Expect mistakes. Embrace lessons. Trust the work you did.

My answer was yes. I bet yours is too.

Listen Intentionally.

Do you ever feel that when you talk to your adult-ish kids, they tend not to listen? But they do talk to us, when we listen to them? Create a safe space for your kids to talk to you about they are feeling without any judgement. I always found time in the car to be best for these conversations. I may be guilty of making excuses for my son to ride with me just to to listen to him. Each one of these moments is precious, so take advantage of them when you can.

Ask them questions, without offering your advice or input (unless they ask). You’ll be surprised how much they will open up to you about the emotional roller coaster they may be going through. You are giving them permission to stand on their own two feet while assuring them you’ll always be there to hold them up when they really need your support.

Let it Go.

Now is not the time to figure out how you could have been a better parent. You weren’t perfect. You made mistakes. You forgot to pick up your son from his first day of 4th grade. You made a promise you never fulfilled. You yelled when you should have hugged them. Your child forgives you. Forgive yourself. You were a great mom! You did the best you could and your child loves you for that. Perfect moms don’t exist, so let it all go and know that you did a the best job with what you had available to you!

This is Their Future, Not Yours.

Think back to when you were a high school senior. You may have had big dreams, or you might not have had a clue what you were supposed to do with your future. Chances are you did not follow the path that you started or you followed your heart, and not your parents. Remember that your kids have dreams of their own. Don’t place your dreams on them to fulfill. That never usually ends well.

When you are filled with worry about your child’s future, remember to have faith and trust that everything is working out for them. When my son first applied to college, he was determined to major in something I felt was not the best fit for him and he had no interest in pursuing what I wanted for him. Although it was not an easy process, I am so thankful I chose to let him figure it out on his own and he ended up choosing a different path altogether. He even mentioned to me recently that he never expected to follow the path he’s on and couldn’t be happier with his choice.

Senior Giving Graduation Speech

Pray for Your High School Kids.

There was a time when your child needed you for everything and now they are getting ready to be independent of you. Here is the good news! They still need you and they still need your prayers. Start a prayer journal specifically just for them. Pray daily for their safety, their choices, their influences, their future, their friends. Pray often. They need your prayers and your prayers will bring you the peace you need during the transition.

It’s Okay to Feel Sadness.

Even though you are very happy and thrilled for you children, you can’t help but feel sadness. Whether you have more children at home or are preparing for even bigger changes in the Empty Nest Stage, feeling a deep sadness or even separation grief is very normal. Allow yourself time to process through this big life change. It took 18 years to raise your child. You won’t get through the emotions in a weekend.

“Parenting is a life time job and does not stop when a child grows up.” –Jake Slope

This is not only a exciting time for your children, but it is for you as well. It’s bittersweet. But it’s also a beautiful time to not only celebrate your child, but to celebrate yourself for a job well done. Life is always changing and and much as we may want our kids to stay young forever, change and growth is inevitable. You’re ready. You got this.

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