Best Advice for the Parents of the Graduate

When it comes to parenting after graduation, I firmly believe “less is more.” With your help your child has managed to make it through school and is now preparing for the real world. While as a child and even a teenager, your child depended on you for just about everything. After graduation, it is time for these young adults to learn to fend for themselves. The best gift you can give to your children is to allow them to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society.

I am not saying that once your child graduates that you should pack his bags give him the boot and change the locks, as tempting as it may be. Transition slowly into a more passive role as a parent. There is no need to call him three or four times a day. Possibly cut back on any unsolicited advice. I am sure your child will miss your words of wisdom, however, how will they ever learn if you are always there to prevent them from making any mistakes.

Once you have transitioned into the passive parenting mode, I guarantee you that your relationship with your child will improve. I can remember once I graduated and left home for college I couldn’t wait to experience freedom of living on my own. As my parents became more passive, I began to miss them more. I found that I was calling them three times a day with questions that I never thought of at home. I remember a few of those specific questions:

Me: “Mom, how come my macaroni and cheese looks like soup?”
Mom: “Did you forget to drain the water!”

Me: “Dad, how exactly do you do laundry again?”
Dad: “How the hell do I know? Ask your mom!”

I think you get the picture; my point is that once you have become separated, your child may initially enjoy his freedoms, but will also miss home and become grateful for the conveniences he once enjoyed at home. By staying less involved, your child will realize that you are there if needed, and are always willing to help; otherwise, he or she will be happy to learn on their own. Because you, the parents, have demonstrated your respect for them by allowing them to live on their own without interfering they will perceive you in a different and more positive light. In fact they may even begin to realize the sacrifices you have made for them the past 18 years. As a result of this new respect they may be more likely to visit you more often.

Some parents choose not change their parenting styles and suffer adverse effects. Whenever your child is living on his/her own several phone calls a day may seem a little bothersome. Constant and unexpected visits from Mom and Dad may not be received very well from a young adult trying to experience life on his/her own, especially if each visit is coupled with criticisms on the cleanliness of his living area, or the lack of healthy food in the fridge. These intrusions may actually influence your child to be reluctant to visit you, and actually pull further away from you. Even though parents are well intentioned, sometimes trying to help all the time will achieve the negative result.

Parents, once your children graduate it is time to sit back and witness as 18 years of your guidance, discipline, and endless wisdom manifest themselves through the actions of your child. Sure they may forget to drain the water out of the macaroni every now and then, but a few nights of “macaroni soup” will solve that. Let your children spend some time to find themselves. They will make mistakes, probably a little more than they let on, but they will learn from them. If they encounter serious problems, rest assured your phone will be ringing. Just because they are moving on and away does not mean they mean that that they are moving without you. In fact, they are only able to move on because of you!

Good Luck Graduates!