Graduation time always has me thinking of transitions. I coined a phrase from a friend who was talking about the changes with her daughter. She calls them her “happy/sad” moments. I don’t know about you, but that phrase conjures up a lot of emotional images for me. I find it awesome that she takes time to notice her feelings of these moment-in-time changes as she goes through the parenting process. There are SO many of these times to recall as our kids start gaining more freedom.
- Happy that your child is off having fun with friends; sad that she doesn’t need you as much.
- Happy that your teen is starting to see success in several areas of his life; sad that he doesn’t share as much with you.
- Happy that your teen is graduating; sad that you’ll miss her when she goes away to college.
We’ve all been there through each change, sometimes happy for the passage from one phase into the next, but a bit of sadness of the unknown.
As I write, my daughter-in-law left her 17 month old for the first time this past week. I watched as she quickly made her flight reservations excited for a break. As she neared the airport, I watched the tears flow. Happy/sad indeed.
“Happy/sad” moments are a clue that we need to change our parenting especially during the teen years. If we watch for them, we’ll know what the next step should be.
Unfortunately, by the time our tweens and teens are in middle and high school, we’ve sometimes become so accustom to these “happy/sad” moments that we almost forget to take notice of our emotion. We get trapped in the norm of change and forget that we need to start parenting differently.
I loved it last week when my friend sent me a text. “Happy/sad. My daughter got her license last week and now drives herself to work. Excited Megan has more freedom and I have more time. Missing our long talks together in the car. How do I get my daily time back with her?”
Each of the “happy/sad” situations we encounter typically means less interaction with our kids. So it means we have to be more intentional in connecting with them. We need to be an initiator in the relationship. The hard part to the equation is that as our kids get these new freedoms, they have more things they can do and more people to interact with that can keep them entertained. They no longer need us.
Or so they think.
So what can we do?
- Engage with them intentionally. What fun things do you both enjoy? Sports? Hobbies? Food usually works, especially Starbucks.
- Take note of what they like to do and schedule a date with them. Don’t forget to remind them as the date gets close.
- Let them know that you miss your time with them. “Honey, I’m excited that you have your license and are becoming an adult. I want you to know that I miss our talk time in the car. I don’t want to lose our connection since you’ve only got a couple of years left here at home. What kind of things could we do?”
As your kids move through their milestones toward freedom, we have to become more deliberate in connecting with them and also make sure that we don’t become someone who is overly needy of their time. Learning to let go sometimes means that we need to find other people or projects to fill the void of time we are typically with our child. Try to remember that you are learning to walk a tightrope balancing life so that your tween and teen feel free to grow and explore and will know that you’ll be just fine when they do leave.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Each new phase we enter with our children gives us a new opportunity for growth. “Letting go” means we have to trust God more and more with those we love and if we do it well, we’ll reap the benefits of growing closer to Him in the process.
Glad you’re on the journey with me. If you have a new graduate, celebrate the happy/sad moments.
“Let go…and let God”,
So what “happy/sad” moments are you currently wrestling with?