We have been or currently are in the throes of graduations galore. Hats are thrown in the air, celebrations had, and gifts given. Then it’s over, but it’s not. The pomp and circumstance has died away, but students are still in a waiting space for the future to arrive.
Sure they have stuff to “do,” in the way of jobs, missions trips, vacations, and maybe camp this summer. However, they are in a waiting game to leave home and be “adults now.”
I remember going to my college orientation that particular summer. I was about to enter a school that houses almost 40,000 people or more. I had to stay for three days to get to know the campus, be walked through class selection, and figure everything out, including something called a “dining hall.” I called home about a day in, panicking that I was never going to do well. “What if my room mate turns out to be crazy?” I asked. My parents did the best they could to calm my nerves. I went off in the fall and did fine.
YET! I wish I had someone to really help me think through all that was going to happen, along with my parents. Even the student who seems the most “ready” is shaking in their boots that they won’t “make it,” in college. Many have done a great job helping students think about their future this last year. Perhaps you even purchased, “Seniors,” by Lars Rood (notice the product placement). I am talking specifically about these last two months leading to their walking away from home:
1. Don’t Drop Them Like A Hot Potato
They are leaving, but they aren’t gone yet. Students have built a relationship with you and may need some reassurance that isn’t going away. Let them know you are available when they leave. Take some time to go out and talk with them about fears, and how to navigate those college years. Let them know you are still there.
College is no easy task. Students worked hard to get to where they are and will need to work to stay. Talk through with them how to have a great first year. Have an honest discussion about the pitfalls of parties, sleeping late, skipping class and freedom. Some can’t wait to get out from under “house rules,” this focus may not be positive for them. Help them know how to find a local church to plug into and campus organizations like Cru or Intervarsity that will help them connect to the Lord. Don’t just tell them, “You’ll do great.” Help them think it through so they will do great.
3. Something Practical
They may be thinking through their new dorm room or living space. What is something practical you can send with them to remind them of home? Maybe you can create a poster or pillowcase with a Bible Verse and picture? The gift may need to be “subtle”, but memories that make them feel safe are awesome.
4. Don’t Forget the Parents
Remember parents are having a hard time too. This isn’t just about the students leaving, this is about parents letting go. Us parents can feel like our time of being needed is “over.” Help parents navigate the nest getting a little more empty. Can you set up a summer coffee time with other parents of seniors so they all can talk? Can you help them create something special to send their child off to the “big unknown?” Remind them their roles changes now, but it’s never “over.”
Most importantly simply remember this space before they take off is important. After the party, the reality of “tomorrow” hits hard. They may not even really know how to pack and the future is an intimidating place. Keep reminding them that Jesus has not left them and He refuses to. What’s the next step in their journey with Him?
What are you doing this summer with your Seniors heading to college?