March is the month for College Basketball finals, but more traditionally, March represents new beginnings. March welcomes Spring with longer days, fresh blossoms and new birth of animals with all of nature’s wonders. For parents of high school seniors, March has become the month to anticipate college decisions, constant tugs of financial demands from Senior Prom expenses to graduation outlays and the required deposits to reserve your child’s spot on college campuses.
March Madness defines more than the “Final Sweet 16” basketball playoffs. Every high school parent is aware of their own madness as they balance how to support their senior high school student and still keep their own sanity. How do you stay focused to be the best for yourself, your family, friends and colleagues?
Part of staying balanced for yourself is the acknowledgment that life will change for you and your child come June. Yes, your senior also is feeling stress – stress waiting to hear from colleges and the stress of what next year will look like – stress of the unknown. Neither you nor your child may even be aware that anxiety has become a common feeling that produces stress. What you and your senior are experiencing are normal feelings because senior year is challenging. Typically parents recognize that there are more arguments and more frustrations. What matters is how you manage yourself and support your child. May I offer a few suggestions to guide you through a challenging time to turn it into a time of celebration?
If you can identify the stress you are under, you can manage it. Naming what you are feeling is a helpful tool to stabilize these emotions. Once you are able to focus and break down specifics of what is triggering the stress, then you can create a plan to manage your needs.
Similar to putting the air mask on yourself first before you can assist others on a plane, once you take charge of yourself then you can partner with your child to understand what your senior is experiencing. I still remember the drama I created with my mom senior year as I tried to “bust out of the nest”. This scenario was recreated with my daughters in their senior years. The pointless arguments and up and down emotions are normal because your child is reaching out to be independent. How can you be there for them without getting sucked into “the dance”?
The greatest gift you can give your child is the ability to be “present” for them – to listen without thinking of a response. This may sound easy, but it most definitely is not. As parents, we always want to have answers. Don’t underestimate the power of active listening. Often, seniors are very emotional about hearing from colleges; they are scared of change. Being present for them is a powerful tool as they work through these next few months. Recognizing your needs is also powerful as you navigate this important stage of your lives. This experience may also be the reminder that you will be an Empty Nester soon. (Empty Nester Syndrome will be discussed in a future article) Take a deep breath and remember that, with the proper management techniques, these life changing events can be a time of celebration for both you and your child.
EYH Life Coach specializes in coaching clients experiencing transitions. We partner with you to recognize what you need to navigate change and recognize opportunity. Enjoy the journey…
Christina Dalton is the Principal of EYH Life Coach. She applies her own personal and career transitions along with several degrees and credentials to provide insight and knowledge into the coaching experience. Christina handpicks her staff, all of whom are ICF credentialed and have unique experiences to create invaluable coaching sessions.