To all you moms and dads of the high school seniors who are ready to cry buckets at your child's graduation ceremony, let me say just one thing - don't!! As a mother of two adult "children" and one Class of 2018 high school senior, let me assure you that high school graduation is not an ending but a new beginning. No matter how wonderful it was to see your child navigate through the past 12 years and become the person they are now, this is just the beginning. Although they are technically "adults", many of them have much more growing and maturing to do. Now is the time to stand back and gaze in amazement at how far they have come thus far, but there is still a long way to go until they are fully mature and self sustaining adults.
Many have discovered an area of passion, a talent or a skill that they enjoy and are good at and wish to pursue, but some are still testing the waters and have yet to determine what career path to take. Although you will be (and should be) less involved in their day to day activities from now on, they will still look to you for guidance on the "big" issues. Let them test out their fledgling wings. Don't rush in to rescue at every sign of a little misstep. Let them figure it out. They will not grow confident in their own decision making skills if you make every decision for them.
Enjoy your new found freedom! If this is your youngest child that is graduating, you have escaped the world of parent teacher conferences, helping with homework, and working on school projects and committees. You might find yourself with free time to pursue those long abandoned hobbies that you once enjoyed before your schedule was commandeered by your children's activities. This is not to say you did not enjoy and feel fulfilled by those activities at the time. It's wonderful for parents to be involved in their children's lives and volunteer their time for the benefit of our youth, but now it's someone else's turn. Relax, take a breath, and enjoy this new independence, just as your children are now enjoying their new-found independence as well.
Don't worry that your child will no longer need you. They still need you just as much, but in a different way. They may need a listening ear when there are relationship problems, or they are not getting along with their roommate. They need encouragement when classes are difficult and exams are looming. They might just want to call and hear your voice when they are lonely in those first months away from home. A child never outgrows the need for parental love and affirmation - they just need it in smaller doses and at longer intervals. They will still love to see you there at the big moments like college graduation, moving into the first apartment, or getting the first job. They will still look for your face in the crowd when they have big events in their lives. They will relish a few days of home cooking and a familiar room and bed to sleep in when they have a few days away from jobs or college.
High school graduation is a time to look back in appreciation and celebration of the good times, good friends, hard work, and accomplishments thus far- but don't worry! It's not over! Many just as amazing and wonderful experiences and accomplishments are just around the corner. So go ahead and shed a tear or two, but let them be tears of joy and love, not tears of sadness. Congratulations to the class of 2018, and to their moms and dads, friends and grandparents, and all who have supported them along the way to where they are right now, and the fantastic places that they are going to in the future!