Parenting Past the High School Years

Parenting Past the High School Years

I have had several parents recently come to me with teens that were launching off to college in the fall, expressing dismay and angst over the fact that their seniors had changed dramatically, were not “themselves”, and had suddenly become extremely belligerent, uncharacteristically irresponsible, and downright impossible to “read”.  The parents were having a really difficult time dealing with the changes and understanding what had become of the young person they knew they’d raised? Where was the level headed, cool young man, the “overall great kid” who used to care about his family but was now showing signs of serious “senioritis", experiencing apathy, and having behavioral meltdowns that were throwing his parents for a loop? What happened to the delightful, cheerful cheerleader who had always cared about her grades and been a joy to live with until the winter of her senior year?  What changed and caused brothers to suddenly start fighting at every turn just before the oldest headed off to college, after years of getting along and watching each others’ backs?

Ah, parenting joys up into the college years!  Were you really under the impression that once they hit high school, it was going to be a cake walk and you could stop parenting?!  Not so much!

The fact that our kids already know how to push our buttons (and have known since they were age two!) doesn’t help any.  The fact that the hormones are wreaking havoc in their young adult bodies doesn’t bode well.  The fact that (if they have applied to colleges) they are waiting to hear whether they have been “accepted” or “rejected” is almost too much for them to bear… Even the awful disparaging terminology is a cause of great anxiety - “rejection letter”!  Ugh! Self doubt creeps in and they ask themselves whether they have what it will take to be “accepted”?  Remember those days?  Go back and think about how you felt, before getting responses to your applications!  

If our young adults aren't forthcoming about how they are feeling and the anxiety they are experiencing in this season, we can read their uncertainties and stress as "attitude".  What we parents need to keep in mind is the fact that we have “raised them well!”  If, overall, the problems we experience in their senior year are new and totally uncharacteristic of our teens, we need to batten down the hatches and ride out the rough weather.  Furthermore, we need to realize it is a phase and probably due to everyone’s anxiety about the new road ahead.  The key is opening opportunities for heart-to-heart talks about how everyone is honestly feeling.

So often our sons and daughters are experiencing pre-graduation and launch jitters.  Whether they are aware of it, or want to admit it, all high school seniors go through a phase of serious trepidation.  Am I ready to leave home?  Do I really know what I want to do for the rest of my life? How will I survive college or the workplace without my parents?  Am I prepared to handle life on my own? Will I be able to support myself?  What if I can’t hack the college load? Am I good enough to compete with other young adults my age in the workplace? Where am I going to live?

All of that may be playing a part in what we are seeing at this age and stage of their development.  Our young adults are starting to feel a bit of a push to get out in the world and “make good”.  They are uncertain fledglings, balanced on the edge of the nest, preparing to take their first flight.  No wonder they’re so conflicted (and consequently ornery)…They want to launch, and at the same time, wish we would stop them from taking off!

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More tomorrow (Tuesday) on “Parenting Past High School - Part 2”
Please feel free to comment, “like” and share~ especially if you could relate!
Then let us know what situations you’ve dealt with as a parent of college-bound seniors or young adults launched into the workplace…