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Updated: Jun 16, 2023

June is a month of transition.

As school lets out for summer break, we have graduations and summer camps, we have spring sports ending and teacher’s moving on to new opportunities. New jobs and preparations for colleges and new opportunities. There is much to be celebrated, some to be mourned and many feelings to be felt. Aspects of transition can affect us all differently.

I attended the graduation for the 8th grade class at our school last night. As I sat looking at the decorations, seeing the mom’s holding it together, I thought about how in 12 short months, I would be sitting in one of those rows, looking (up) at my oldest son as he moves on to a new chapter of his life. Will I be strong enough to show him how proud of the man he is becoming, while at the same time, mourning the boy I still see when I look at him?

Next year also means two kids in middle school for our family. My youngest son is wise beyond his years, and yearns for connections with adults. This year I watched him branch out on his own and try a new sport, and put all he had into learning and growing his abilities in throwing discus, javelin and shot put. He looks for opportunities to help constantly, and I am so proud of the man he is also becoming.

While I sat at graduation, barely holding it together through the songs and snapshots and awards…I thought back to my own transition into high school. I also graduated from an 8th grade class of only about 17 kids. It was a tough transition for me. I wasn’t in all of the advanced classes that some of my friends were in and I wasn’t into sports. I struggled to define myself, not knowing where I really belonged. I was lucky to rediscover some old friends, and made some really great new friends, too. I found ways of developing my confidence in myself, and also found ways of fitting in. Overall, high school does have some really incredible memories for me, even if it was tough to feel them at the time.

Looking back, it is almost hard to believe that that period of our life is only 4 years long. That is a drop in the bucket of our total lifespan. Yet so much of who we are develops in high school. It is a period of establishing relationships and friendships. Many couples who got together in my high school class are still married today, 24 years later. Other relationships that didn’t work out, still shaped us to be who we are now. There are some souls we lost, and my memories of them still burn in my heart. There were trips and parties and experiences that feel like yesterday…And yet the total high school experience is 4 years long.

Imagine for a moment, how we pictured our adult life when we entered high school. Think about the person you were when you entered, and then think of who you were as you left. Sure, there were some decisions you might wish you hadn’t made. But there are also probably some friends you wouldn’t have wanted to live without. Who was your favorite high school teacher? Or favorite adult that impacted your life? Was it a coach that left an imprint on you that you carried through your life? Did you start your first job in high school? How did that impact your future career or college choices? What colleague at your first job helped you through learning the ropes and showed you patience and kindness?

Those graduating from high school face even more pressure. Some will work in their family business. Others are preparing for college thousands of miles away. Others may feel like they are being forced to make life changing decisions. But again, think of who you were when you left high school. What you thought you knew, and who you have become. What can you do to support a person in your life who is moving on to a new chapter. How can you soak up memories with them now that will carry you through those first tough months after they have left the nest. Maybe you should also prepare for when they come back to the nest with all their belongings…because I have heard that can be a little overwhelming, too.

Being a parent through this journey is bound to have some challenges. As we support those around us going through these transitions, remember to give them the grace they need to pave the path for themselves. You have given them the tools they need to become adults, how can you give them the freedom to put those tools to use?

Think of the most influential people to you during these time periods and see if there is a way you can be that person for someone else. We look at the world through our experienced lens-but they are just beginning this journey. How can you support them in growth, and allow them to stretch their wings?

Transition can be hard.

Transition can also be beautiful.

Take a moment to pause and take it all in. These moments are a drop in the bucket of our life, and I don’t want you to miss a thing. And if you can, reach out to a parent who is managing through this process. Let them know you see them, that you are there for them. Maybe you can even share some positive things you notice about their kids. None of us feel 100% confident in what we are doing, and a little reminder and encouragement might change a perspective for someone. We all need all the encouragement we can get!

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