Moving out! Planning for Smooth Transitions

High school graduation signifies a time of transition. For most, such major changes are both exciting and scary at the same time. Graduates experience a shift in responsibility, transformation in peer groups, and increased independence. Parents feel a sense of pride in the accomplishments of the new graduates while secretly (and sometimes not so secretly!) mourning the loss of childhood.

It is important for families to address and discuss the many changes in expectations and roles within the family. Strong, consistent communication throughout this transition is the most important skill for a family to maintain. Before the transitioning student leaves for college, it is necessary to discuss everyone’s feelings about the change, what they will miss about their previous routines and what they wish for one another. Putting a schedule of correspondence together for when the transitioning student leaves is also important; make sure that everyone agrees on a relatively similar frequency of emails, phone calls, skype dates, etc. This is a time for the graduate to identify a new sense of self, which often involves some more extreme limit testing, particularly with their peers and social activities.

For parents, it is helpful to allow your child to grow and experience this new stage of young adulthood. Before your student leaves for school, take the time to make new memories, and celebrate old ones with each other. Make sure younger siblings have the opportunity to spend quality time with their brother or sister and help them understand that they will see their sibling on holidays and school breaks. After your transitioning student has left the home, it is helpful to talk about them and include them in family discussions to preserve bonds, particularly when younger siblings are involved. It is also essential to continue making new memories and finding each sibling’s special place in the family. Now that their older brother or sister is out of the house, your younger children have the opportunity to step up and take on more responsibility at home. This should be viewed as a privilege as they are being seen as older and more responsible in the family. Finally, maintaining as much structure and routine as possible is critical for everyone to see that life does go on and that everyone can still continue to get everything they need done and done well.

Most of all, enjoy and embrace this transition as you have the previous milestones in your child’s life.