Getting Through Graduation

Parents have a a lot of mixed emotions about launching their kids.

From Used with permission.

What can be more joyful for a parent than when a child completes a certain stage of education? Graduation--whether it is from nursery, elementary, middle, high school, or college--is indeed a proud and momentous occasion.

But like so many momentous occasions, especially those involving family, there's a lot mixed into it--strong emotions, both positive and negative; logistics about where out-of-towners are going to stay; what gift to get the graduate--all things that can put a difficult spin on a day that supposed to be wonderful. The key to having a wonderful graduation for your child is in doing some advance planning, lowering your expectations of the perfect day, and trying to overlook the inevitable mishaps.

Of course, you're happy your child is graduating. But there's also some sadness that may go along with it. With each passing grade, your child is growing more independent--and you're growing older, not a reality that gladdens most people. Many parents form intense bonds with other nursery school parents, and often the whole family can go through a difficult transition when the child moves from the smaller, more intimate environment of nursery school to the larger, more impersonal public school system.


In some graduations, your whole life may change, such as when your last child graduates from high school. "It's just hitting me now how quiet and lonesome it's going to be," says Lisa Levine (name changed) of Washington, D.C., who will face the empty nest when her daughter graduates from high school this spring and moves on to college. "It's a little scary."

But don't be surprised: You could feel a little guilty about being glad that your kid is graduating and leaving home. That is also a normal reaction. After all, continuous parenting is tiresome, and some parents, while they foresee how much they'll miss their kid, like the idea of less laundry, a clean room, and a silent phone for part of the evening.

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