How To Help Support Your Child With The Pressures Of Post High School Plans
Children can have many thoughts and feelings about graduating high school, including both excitement and worry about what their life might be like. Parents may also have similar feelings about their child's future and wonder how they can best prepare their child for what comes next. Experiencing a wide range of emotions is to be expected around such a large transition in a child's life. Even though 18-year-olds are legally considered adults, their minds are still growing and developing and they are in need of parental support and guidance especially as they navigate this new chapter in their life.
During their senior year of high school, children may experience many reasons to celebrate as well as many losses. They may get accepted into some colleges but not others or experience both positive and challenging changes in their relationships with peers. Parents can help their children celebrate progress while also helping them to mourn any losses by leaving room for all of their child's feelings and by letting their children know that their feelings for them don't change based on what they achieve.
Throughout a child's life, parents develop their own hopes and dreams around their child's future. Some parents hope their children will make different decisions than they did, while others hope their children will follow a similar path. While all parents want only the best for their children, it may be difficult when your child's vision of their post high school life doesn't match up with your own ideas. However, respecting and supporting your child's wishes for their future is an important component of your child's future success.
If your child's plans don't match up with your own, recognize and acknowledge that this can feel like a loss for you. Discussing your feelings with a spouse or a close friend is one way to cope while preserving your relationship with your child. Some parents who are struggling with these losses also find it helpful to seek professional support. By being respectful and supportive of your child's wishes, you will maintain a close relationship - which is of utmost importance.
Even if you are concerned about your child's plans, it's important to convey that you are open to their ideas. Help them evaluate their options by exploring together all the things they need to consider (like income, location, a support system, etc.) When parents are open to exploring their child's ideas, it allows space for the children to also consider their parents comments and ideas as they make decisions about their future. It could sound something like, "Yes, let's look into that idea together. I also heard about these other opportunities that maybe we can explore as well?" In this manner, children feel like you are on their side and trying to help them achieve their goals.
Trial and error is part of growing up. Be okay with your child making mistakes. By prioritizing your relationship with your child, you are ensuring that your child will take your kindness, patience, and resiliency with them as they transition into adulthood.