From a Graduate's Dad: Advice to Parents of New Graduates
I've enjoyed the opportunity to speak to several graduating seniors and their parents at our campus' senior banquets. Each year, they've asked me to share a “Top 10” list of advice for parents. So, with a little consultation with my wife (who’s much smarter than me), here are my top 10 pieces of advice for parents of graduates:
1. You need to move into a coaching role.If you haven’t already, you’ve got to transition from being the authority figure (i.e., Police, Judge, and Jury) for your young adult. The only influence you will soon have is the influence that you earn. You need to move into a coaching role, with an eye on the real goal of eventually being a trusted friend.
2. Their success or failure is up to them.
You have hopefully created opportunities for your children to be successful, but what they do with those opportunities is up to them. They also need to understand and embrace this reality. (Think about it: you aren’t going to be calling their professors or their boss to advocate for them). Let them feel the pressure (and the joy) of the importance of their stewardship of their own lives.
3. This is what’s supposed to happen.
Them moving on to the next stage of life (college, trade school, or career) is a good thing. You don’t want the alternative path of them living on your couch playing video games for life to be the plan.
4. Your home will never be the same again…and that’s ok.
But you do need to realize this: the dynamics will shift. I’m pretty sure my mom is much happier when I come over now with my amazing wife and super fun grandkids than she ever was dealing with 17-year-old Todd. Nonetheless, soak up this summer together before the next stage begins.
5. Disengage on rules and curfews now.If they are moving out in three months and going to be making all these decisions soon (without the benefit of being around people who love them as much as you) it’s better to let them “practice” this freedom now, so you they will be better equipped to handle it come fall. (This doesn’t mean you don’t talk about their choices and the way those choices affect others in the home!)
6. Plan to go visit them as much as you can.Crystal and I have loved going down to A&M several times this year and are already planning next year’s visits. (Remember, the highway goes both ways.)
7. It’s ok to keep location tracking on.Especially if you’re still paying the phone bill and seeing where they are gives you peace of mind. Just know you’re not allowed to harass your young adult about what you see on there.
8. Schedule a call routine.In the first semester, you’ll both be getting used to new rhythms. Stay intentional about connection. (At one point, Noah and I had a regular NBA2k game going online—it was awesome!)
9. Find a healthy outlet for your worries.You can’t let fears or anxieties add to this already emotional season. Take up your worries in prayer. And don’t just pray to avoid the bad stuff; pray that they will also live into and experience all the good stuff! You also need community. My wife had a group of moms waiting to hug her after that first drop off. It was so great!
10. This transition is usually different for moms than dads.Guys have feelings about this too, but you gotta give mom priority.
Good luck, parents (and grads)—you've got this!