I remember high school graduation as a simple celebration. We were given a cap and gown, waited for our name to be called, and then walked across a stage. Pretty simple. And “yes,” we might’ve attended a party or two.

Now graduation seems to be fraught with must-do’s and an over-abundance of details. There are end of year celebrations, parties (everyone has one and you are required to go to them all), graduation ceremonies, and planning ahead for the next step (college for some and simply figuring out what is next for others).

Parents have made comments to me on how stressful coordinating & facilitating all these details can be, let alone being available for their graduate for any real connection they (or you) might need!

Here’s a checklist of how to keep it all together and create the most positive results out of this crazy and amazing time of transition:

  1. Stop and Breathe. Remember, this is a time of celebration and joy in your young adult’s life. You will never again have this unique and special experience, so try to slow down and appreciate this precious time together.

  2. Take a minute to check-in to see if you are getting what you need. Do you need a few minutes alone to emote or maybe share your feelings with another parent who understands? Perhaps taking some time to write down whatever fears or hopes you have for your grown child.

  3. Connect with your graduate in a way that is meaningful to you both. For example, if your child’s “love language” is quality time but yours is physical touch, consider spending time together snuggling on the couch, eating popcorn while watching a movie.

  4. Get curious. Ask what your child needs now, in the moment? What will they miss the most after graduation? What are they most concerned about and how can you provide support? Our young (grown) adults now lead from the Front in their own lives, all the time, and it’s our responsibility as parents to step into a different leadership position as a supporter who listens, always understands and never doubts. 

  5. Celebrate. Find small ways to congratulate and celebrate your graduates’ accomplishments, as well as your own. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of little milestones have gotten you both to where you are today, so take a step back and let that all sink in.