By Steven A. Maybell, Director of SPU’s Student Counseling Center and Adjunct Professor in SPU’s Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Program
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From the first day of life to the last, our lives are filled with little deaths followed by revival. This transition, this loss, is also like a little death. Know that revival is coming for you both.
For your son or daughter, who is losing his or her childhood forever during this transition, revival will come in the form of greater wisdom, confidence, relationships, independence, career, and a more mature relationship with you, their parents.
Revival is coming for you as well, so long as you remain receptive to the necessity of change in any transition. For parents, revival often comes in the form of new interests and relationships, and a relationship with your son or daughter that is not just between parent and child, but also between adult friend and adult child.
There’s a certain pride in seeing your child grow into a mature, confident, and independent adult; in seeing your daughter or son be able to assist and support you; in seeing the new relationships they will bring into your life, such as marital partners and grandchildren. (Oh, grandchildren! Life’s greatest joy.)
It helps to have a wide-angle future orientation in this process of transition (a hope-and-faith-based approach) versus a preoccupation on all the little things that are currently happening or not happening (a fear based approach).
This is a time for prayer, regular prayer, as we embark on this journey of loss, transition, and change. The Lord will comfort us and help us to embrace the transition. The Lord will protect your children as they are met by new challenges and opportunities. He can more than make up for you not being there as you always have before. We can do more by talking to God about our young adult children than by talking to our young adult children about what they should do.
The Lord will see you and your family through this significant time. And know that the Lord also works through the caring faculty, staff, and student leadership — who have built a strong safety net to encourage and protect your kids. Trust in us. We love what we do.
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Is your son or daughter headed to college? Here are three resources to help you during this transition.
Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years (fourth edition), by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger, Quill Publishers, 2003.
Parent's Guide to College Life, by Robin Raskin, Princeton Review, 2006.
The College Parents of America website. It's designed to assist parents all the way through the process, including the importance of the high school years; applying for college; the transition to college and the parent's role; challenges throughout the college years; and after college.