The eighth semester has just started. Your high school senior is having trouble focusing on the finish line. A few college applications are waiting to be submitted. Your nagging has increased and the entire family dynamic has shifted to a more stressful interplay; you aren’t pleased. What to do? What to do?
Here’s a little story that might help.
A usually well balanced high school senior, let’s call him Todd, has become uncharacteristically short-tempered and withdrawn. I’m not talking about symptoms of clinical depression, but rather, less willingness to spend time with the family and more time in his room, alone. Mom nags him to finish the last few applications and Todd snaps,”I will! I’m not a baby, and I know what I have to do.” Dad chimes in with, “You need to stay focused on the finish line, Todd. You aren’t a graduate yet. Many a kid has ruined his chances for a good college by dropping the ball during the last semester, son.” Todd closes his bedroom door. (He knows better than to slam it – remember, he’s not a baby.) Mom and Dad enter a serious conversation about how they worry for Todd’s future, what impact his actions might have, what if he doesn’t get into college, and on and on. By the time they go to bed, neither can fall asleep and Dad asks Mom. “Did you get more Alka-Seltzer at the store? My stomach is churning like a whirlpool.”
When we are faced with this step of launching our kids, we are caught between wanting to protect them and wanting them to protect themselves. With one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, they are stressed. This push-pull action causes stress in human relationships. Does it sound a little like the birth process? Well, it is. You are laboring to bring them into the adult world and they are resisting, yet still wanting to get there. The advice I offer is this, deep breath before you say anything. Mom and Dad, you need to stay focused also. Your goal is to birth this most precious child into his or her next life chapter. DO NOT allow the stress to propel you into nagging. Love this child as you did during the original birthing process. Both you and your teenager will remember with gratitude.
Here are a few tips from trusted websites. They are older articles, but the information is timeless:
More about child rearing through love in upcoming posts.