We argued EVERY SINGLE day that summer. Typically, my mom and I get along really well. But the spring and summer of my high school graduation was filled with daily arguments. We shared a car and so we were thankfully only together most days for about a half an hour when I came home from work and right before she left. Today we laugh about that summer. Looking back though, I realize that we were both coping with high school graduation anxiety. While graduation is a time to celebrate, it can also be extremely stressful for both parents and teenagers.
Coping with High School Graduation Anxiety
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Graduation can be so exciting! Everyone has been working so hard, and high school graduation is FINALLY here! But is also means big changes ahead. Some are welcome changes and other developments feel unknown and anxiety filled.
So as moms, what should we be aware of as graduation approaches? How can we mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves and our teens?
Recognize the Stress of High School Graduation
First action we can take as moms, is to just be self-aware. Recognize that graduation is stressful. Yes, graduation is a huge accomplishment and a fun time of celebration.
But graduation also signifies the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. And who doesn’t get stressed and hate goodbyes?
Realize that both you and your teen will experience moments of happiness AND times when you feel sad or overwhelmed. And that is OK.
- Talk about the changes that are coming with your teen.
- Allow them to process their emotions with you and focus on listening, NOT fixing.
- Make it safe for your teen to be happy AND to express fear and concerns.
- Find safe outlets for yourself so that you can share your fears or concerns without burdening your teen.
Make a Basic Plan for Post Graduation
Hopefully, you and your student have made a basic plan for after high school graduation. A post graduation plan may involve moving away to college, joining the military, living at home and commuting to a local college or starting a full-time job.
However, if we don’t have a plan we need to make one. Typically, we don’t make a plan when we don’t know what to do, or we are terrified about making the wrong decision or some combination of both.
As graduation approaches, a less than perfect plan is better than no plan!
So let’s get serious! Sit down and create a basic plan with some small actionable goals. If you don’t even know where to begin talk to a school counselor or a parent who has already graduated a few teens.
Once you have decided on a basic plan of action then break your plan down into small steps. Make phone calls, look online for information, fill out an application, call a family friend about their career field, visit a recruiter or get some books out from the library.
Give your teen several small action steps to work on during the week. Set a time each week to talk about their results and choose small steps for the following week. By setting a specific time each week to discuss the future, teens are encouraged to take responsibility while still having weekly accountability and feedback.
Celebrate the Accomplishment of High School Graduation
Yay! It’s time to celebrate! However you choose to celebrate make sure to stop and enjoy this moment. Graduation from high school is a huge accomplishment.
Check out all these fabulous Senior Year Celebration Ideas by Julie over at Triangle Senior Year.
In the Midwest, high school graduation is a pretty big deal. We threw large parties for both our boys, serving family and friends lunch and dessert! Our open house graduation parties were fun. We put together videos of the boys growing up and displayed personal items show casing their talents and accomplishments!
With all the stress, celebrating and enjoying friends and family dropping by is a welcome relief. And marking your high schoolers graduation is a nice boost of confidence! Our boys enjoyed having everyone come out to congratulate them. And I think they were rather surprised that so many would drop by to offer their congratulations and bring gifts!
Check out Laura’s post on 30 Best Gift Ideas for Graduation for more ideas!
Accept an Imperfect Future
Get off the merry-go-round of second guessing. I’m so talking to myself on this one. I have a love/ hate relationships with “what ifs.” Like my husband says, I can make the same decision a hundred times. Ugh! My ability to see every side can make me a great person to confide it, but a lousy decision maker sometimes.
So let’s make a plan and move forward. Maybe you are concerned your kid isn’t going to the “right college” or perhaps you are fearful about them moving out. Remember we are not aiming for perfection. We are just trying to make a smart NEXT STEP.
Need some encouragement that your teen will succeed? Read here!
Try not to put too much pressure on your teen to come up with the PERFECT plan for the future.
Realize that Post Graduation Life will Get Easier and Familiar
Most high school seniors are so ready to graduate. And parents, we aren’t far behind. But when the BIG moment is suddenly here it can feel terrifying!
Just remember, we have to be able to release one thing (high school) in order to take hold of the future! Yes, it is hard to let go of the familiar but oh the exciting possibilities that lie ahead!
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And remember, all the new things will gradually give way to familiar routines. But for now, be excited about new adventures
Grieve the Loss of a Season
OK, moms this section is all about YOU! Yes, you the mom wondering where your baby went.
Now, I have talked to a few moms who are ready to send their teen-who-knows-everything out the door. And little wonder as our teens can be driving us nuts by this stage.
But most parents feel a deep sadness too as the realization that one season has ended.
When I started writing The Reluctant Cowgirl, I was right in the middle of the emotional mess of our second child leaving the nest for college. And I was definitely a mess. But that’s OK. You have put so much time, energy, prayers and resources into raising this child. That mom instinct isn’t going to just turn off overnight.
I created some ideas on coping just for you! You are not alone. Go here and here for Coping when Teens Leave Home. And would you do me a favor and forward it to a friend who could use a little encouragement:)
Coping with High School Graduation Anxiety
Do you have a son or daughter graduating soon? Already have a some kids out of the home? How are you feeling? Looking forward to your teen spreading their wings or dreading it? Or somewhere in between? Comment below!
Laurie Orourke says
These are great tips to help conquer the ever-present anxiety that I have during these teen years that I never had when they were younger. Our son is still a sophomore and thoughts of graduation and beyond already cause me stress. I love your statement “We are just trying to make a smart NEXT STEP.” I think that might be a great mantra for every stage of lving with teens, lol. Love your blog.
Hi Laurie, Thanks so much for sharing! It can be stressful. But thinking in small steps does make it feel way more manageable.
Wow Miranda! Such an insightful post, back in the day when I was graduating high school, I was glad to simply move on. I couldn’t wait to grow up and get out of my parents life. But that’s me, always had an independent streak in me.
Betty, I hear ya! I was so determined to leave and move away a couple states at that age too. Glad it was an easy change for you. I did still have some bumps in the road as I was pretty close to my mom and found it hard to leave when the time came.
I do have a teen graduating this month! So far things have gone pretty smoothly since we do have a lot of the things you mentioned in place. (The key about having a post-graduation plan is a big one!)
We’re keeping everything fairly simple but it’s going to be wonderful.
Hi Carolyn! Congrats on having a teen graduate. That is so wonderful that it has been a smooth transition so far. A little bit of planning can go a long way.