May and June bring graduations of all sorts—from kindergarten through grad school. We recognize this as a time of transition for our children. We may even acknowledge that it’s also a transition for us.
Each stage of a child’s growth is a stage of the parent’s development too. That sounds so simple, and you’re probably thinking, Of course—I know that. But transitions bring a series of emotions, celebrations, and challenges. We might focus on what the son or daughter is going through—this is true particularly at high school and college graduations. We plan the party, look for the perfect gift, and help with plans and logistics for a move from home to college or from college to whatever comes next. We search that daughter’s or son’s face for signs of stress or fear, hoping to draw near enough to offer whatever encouragement or advice is needed—or welcomed.
While we revolve around the child’s process, we may forget to attend to our own. There’s the anxiety about what comes next, where the money will come from. There’s worry over choices the child is making or will make. There’s also grief, because an important phase of life is over now. Even if the adult child ends up living with you for awhile—or has to come back home eventually—the relationship will have changed. And this is the way it’s supposed to be.
We must say good-bye. We must let go. We must trust that the work we’ve done up until now will bear good fruit. We must accept that, whatever happens, we’ve done what we’ve done, and the son or daughter will make choices apart from us now.
We must rejoice and forgive. Our children learn from us how to go about life. They learn at home what it means to celebrate the good times and meaningful events. They learn from us to have a posture of gratitude and openness—or not. So now we rejoice in who they are. And we forgive ourselves for not doing a perfect job. We even forgive ourselves for having done the wrong thing at times and actually causing damage to these dear ones of ours. If necessary, we ask their forgiveness. But then we go to the next day, event, task, and season.
What transitions are happening in your life these days? How are they wonderful, and how are they difficult?