Right about now many of our young adults are leaving for college. This presents quite a conundrum for parents finding a balancing act between giving them independence and worrying about them managing life on their own.
This typical Rite of Passage can be excruciating for parents and a realization that they will no longer have a day to day contact with their child nor a consistent sense of their well-being. This transition is the quitensential definition of the work BitterSweet. For what is more bitter or more sweet then launching our children out into the world.
Although saying goodbye can be challenging, when we allow any feelings of loss that it provokes to arise and be honored can actually principate deep internal growth within ourselves as well as in our relationship with our children.
Here are a few suggestions for creating and honoring space as you traverse this process:
Define the feelings. Whether it is sadness at the space of their empty room or the fear that they will make mistakes (which of course they will), allow yourself to name that feeling. Sometimes just the energy of the feelings can feel overwhelming and confusing. Knowing and naming what we are feeling allows us to hold that energy with honor.
Create a ritual for when you arrive home and they are no longer taking up space there. Some parents go into their child's room and say a loving prayer for their success. Some will remind themselves of a funny story of their child. Some will just write a letter of encouragement to their child. Each of these actions allows us to be present with the truth of how we are feeling and thus allowing it to pass through.
Resist the Urge to Check In. Give them space to acclimate. Sometimes it can be hard to know how often to talk to our children. We are used to talking to them many times a day. We are used to knowing their whereabouts at all times. Here is a time for you to breath deeply and step away from the phone. Set a time each week to have a phone call. Send loving texts, Being mindful that they are also acclimating to being away from home for an extended period of time. Give them space to allow this to happen gracefully.
Be available. Ok this may sound contradictory from #3 but actually it's not. We give them space from our needs, but we are available if they need to reach out as a touch stone or to ask for some advice.
Be Inspired. Create space for yourself for something that inspires you. With some extra time on your hands, you may be able to read that book that has been sitting by your bed. Set up a tea date with a friend. Or go dancing with your partner. Add an enjoyable activity to your schedule. As your child expands, you also may have some time to grow in some areas too.
Everyone will have a different experience as they launch their child. Saying goodbye, even temporarily can be challenging and trigger all sorts of feelings. When we allow those feelings to come forward, we are just acknowledging the love and in some ways the loss of the meaningful journey of parenting.