Experiencing Graduation – 7 Profound Emotions

It’s that glorious, heart-wrenching time of year. May – the month of graduations. It is a time for closing old chapters, opening new ones, saying goodbye, and finally finishing what was started many years ago. It is a time for big changes in both a teen’s life and a parent’s.

So how will you deal with the fact that this person, who was knee-high and solely dependent on you only yesterday, is wearing a cap and gown and delivering a speech at her graduation ceremony?

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You ask yourself, “Where did the time go?”

You have flashbacks to that first day of pre-school or Kindergarten. You worried about everything from what she would eat to how well she would make friends. You hoped she would be happy and do well in school. You could not even imagine her graduation day. That seemed so far off.

But here it is. You ask yourself again, “Where did the time go?”

I have been through this twice now, and I have a few more years to prepare until the last one of my kids walks the graduation line into adulthood. In reviewing my own frame of mind when my first two kids graduated, I realized that parents experience at least 7 different emotions during this time. Oddly enough, some of them are conflicting, but that is to be expected. We are complex beings, able to experience a whole gamut of feelings and emotions, especially when it comes to our kids.

Here is a list of 7 emotions parents experience during the season of graduation:

  1. Happiness

Your son or daughter has made it through high school! This is one of the big life events, a rite of passage. The fruits of hard work and perseverance are happening right now. You are thrilled for your child, and happy for his success. Celebrate it and enjoy it.

  1. Sadness

Yes, the opposite of feeling happiness, but it is definitely there. You feel a bit melancholy because your child is graduating from high school. You are sad at the ridiculous speed at which time passes, and you miss that sweet, cherub face that used to look up at you and call you Mommy.

  1. Pride

There is something about seeing your child march into the venue in his cap and gown and give you a big smile and a thumbs up when he spots you in your seat. There is something about hearing Pomp and Circumstance played over and over a million times and hearing your child’s name called out over that loud speaker. And there is something about seeing her walk across that stage to get her diploma. It brings joy to a parent’s soul.

  1. Relief

Thank goodness you made it through to get to this point. Injuries, illnesses, homework, grades, boyfriends, girlfriends, tears, and everything else one must navigate with kids, have come down to this. You deserve to be sitting in this seat feeling these feelings right now.

  1. Anticipation

What is coming next for your son or daughter? For some it is college, a whole new world and playing field. For some, they may be heading to trade school or starting a new job, or getting married, or even traveling. Whatever your child’s plans are, it is a very exciting time for him or her, and for you.

  1. Worry

Unfortunately, parents always fall prey to this non-beneficial emotion. It is a natural reaction, I think, to worry about our kids – their safety, their well-being, their future. All of those things that are uncertain are quick to cause parents to worry. Work with your child to head off problems before they become issues, and some of those worries can fade into the background. Finally, put your child in God’s hands. He can bring you peace.

  1. Uncertainty

No one knows what the future will bring. You can do a great job of planning, but those wild cards still come into play. Your teen has so many choices and so many opportunities to investigate, it can be overwhelming. Also, parents may wonder what is next for me? If this is your only child or your youngest child, you may be dealing with a looming empty nest. Seek out the love and support of friends and family to get through the uncertainties that may lie ahead.

At this point, you can allow yourself the luxury to breathe, relax, and reflect on your child’s life. You hopefully did the very best you could do, and now you must wait and watch to see what happens next. You can remain an active part of your child’s life, but things are going to be different from now on. Establishing boundaries from both sides will be an important step in the coming months and years.

If you have a graduating senior, then please let me extend my sincerest congratulations to you! I pray that you relish this wonderful, special time in your teen’s life. You have all worked hard and deserve the praise and recognition that comes with high school graduation. Good luck, and may God shed His blessings on you.

Are you going through this experience right now, or have you gone through it recently? If so, please leave a comment in the section below. I want to personally wish you well during this time.

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Related: Saying Goodbye to Your College Kid Without Turning Into a Blubbering Idiot

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3 thoughts on “Experiencing Graduation – 7 Profound Emotions

  1. I’m glad that you put in the Uncertainty point about the parent wondering what is next for him/ her! I had heard so many stories of parents wondering who they were when their nest was emptied and couples not knowing each other any more. I resolved to begin asking three years before our last finished with high school who was I without my youngest. God led me in the most amazing way to a thriving home business and an even stronger relationship with my husband.

    • Peggy, thank you for that insight. I am preparing now, myself, three years down the road for the empty nest. It is so hard for a parent who has built her whole identity and scope of work around her kids to readjust and find a new purpose. The time to start figuring that out is now while I still have some time with Andrea at home.