It's that time of year again for students to prepare for banquets, proms, and if you have a Senior, Graduation. Now having gone through this stage of parenting and watching others I realize this is one of those tough times on the parenting journey!
The sad part was I didn't recognize the need until after the pain. I reacted to the events, bad responses, and just over-all-frustration of having a child grow up from teen to young adult. I was battling whether she was ready to be on her own and just one more parenting tip before she was gone. She was battling with 'why' won't my parents let me grow up and do they believe I can make it?
I could only see the wrong, the bad, and the ugly. I was missing the good. My poor soon-to-be graduate was faced with am I good enough, can I finish, and what will I do with my life! This is where she needed my encouragement and I nearly missed it. The struggle comes because they don't tend to tell us what they are wrestling with because they want to be grown up and handle those decisions on their own. (I also think they believe a lecture will follow which they are quite possibly correct.) They forget we are there to help and we forget to be there to help!
I was focused on me and she was focused on her and communication was missing the mark.
I am so thankful for the day that I realized the stress we were under was NOT US but the stress of the push/pull in life. This was a path that could grow us or break us. This is a time in parenting for 'YOU', NOT to react because I promise you probably already have a reacting teen. We are the grown up and we need to hold the line (train by example) of how to react under pressure!
It is so easy to just punish the behavior and miss the glimpse of the struggle they are under.
I challenge you if you are in this stage of parenting and struggles are brewing, to sit back and take a REAL look at what might be happening. We don't let the wrong responses go just because of stress. But we do recognize what is happening and then walk them through with how to deal with the pressures of life. This won't be the last battle of stress they will ever face. But it is one of the biggest they have faced since growing up. Just like toddlers have to be taught how NOT to throw a tantrum. We need to help train our teens how NOT to react to stress. How do you face it, deal with it, live with it without tearing apart the people you love. (This is the training ground to help prepare them for college roommates, coworkers and spouses one day!)
If you are a parent of a graduating senior and there has been more chaos than joy in your home, take heart! This will pass and it is a normal step in growing our children! There are better days ahead. Take a deep breath and gently navigate the rapids that are ahead the next several weeks.
And remember…you can't tell your child enough HOW proud you are of them!