Graduation: A Time of Developmental and Family Transitions

June is the month of school graduations. These are big events that can change the landscape of the family. Is the graduation from middle school (now you have a high schooler!)? Or from high school (now your child is an adult and a future college student!)? Or the big one–from college (now your child is truly independent!)?

All of these questions lead to the realization that your child has entered a new phase in life and the relationship you have may need some adjustments.

This is developmentally appropriate and necessary, but that does not always make it easy. Transitions through life phases require reevaluation of what expectations you have for your child, what responsibilities they can take on, and how much independence they will need. Children may think they can make the transitions on their own, yet they still need guidance from an adult who has been through it.

Parents may approach these transitions differently given their own experiences and their individual personalities. Do you give practical advice? Or are you the nurturer who empathizes with the difficulties of change?

Are you the one to research information on the new school, transportation system for college, or available jobs? Or do you help your child to discover the information themselves?

Whatever role you take as a parent, the love you have for your child continues to be the most important factor in your relationship and the constant that will help them when life becomes challenging. Life is not always easy, but with family support it can be easier than facing challenges alone.

This is a lesson most adults have learned, either through a transition phase or by looking back on a particular situation. Your children may not appreciate your advice or insight at this point in their life, however, one day they will!

Michelle A. Culver, LMFT