First Term of Senior Year:
At this time of year students are already under much pressure, particularly if they have to combine college applications deadlines on top of all the IB homework. There are tears, sleepless nights, angry outbursts, discouragement, exhaustion, mood swings, and soooo much more to do. It is sometimes difficult for parents to find the right balance between being supportive and nagging and we often feel a little confused in our desire to help.
Parents who have been through this process before would make the following suggestions:
Provide a calm, loving environment, free of too many demands (yes, it is ok to drop the battle of the chores). Offer favourite meals, deliver snacks and refreshments during the long hours of study, show interest in their well being but refrain from asking too many questions, trust that they are learning to manage their time but do keep an eye on the deadlines. This is our last chance to spoil them before they move out of the family home….
If it helps your peace of mind, obtain a timeline of assignments and due dates from the school and put it up on the fridge for everyone to see (and be reminded).
“You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”
Second Term of Senior Year:
The process of separation has already started in many households. We are already missing our children even though they are still at home. We imagine life without them and it hurts.
For some of us it is the first or the second, for some of us it is the last child leaving home and they will leave a large hole in our life. Stock up on hugs and kisses, cherish a few “one on one” moments, encourage working parents to spend time with their child, talk about their going away and how it will affect each member of the family differently.
Fast approaching exams, college applications and unending deadlines bring stress, tensions and exhaustion and sometimes, the well intentioned delivery of a cup of tea or phrase of encouragement can be met by an ungrateful grunt or a snappier than usual reply. My advice would be to keep bringing supportive cups of tea… take a deep breath… and not say anything that we might regret saying later. Now is a good time to show our unconditional love!
On a practical side, parents should probably start planning the visa applications, money, credit card and health insurance, anticipate medical check ups (any required vaccinations by the college?), dentist visits (any wisdom teeth causing trouble?), and if the chosen university is far away from home, figure out how to move their belongings from home to university…
Useful Planning Guide from College Board
This is an important year of transition which can seem overwhelming at times – note how difficult it has been to choose a university to which they might be interested in applying. The future can be scary, filled with unknown, of which the only given “fait accompli” is that they will be leaving their nest. For us parents, it is the end of an era, the family that we have created is changing for ever. It is somewhat disheartening that this last year together is often filled with unavoidable painful arguments and difficult choices. I like to see these conflicts positively as life’s little “coup de pouce”, an encouragement for us to let our student walk out the door and for them to want to leave.
In the end, if we manage this year well they are more likely to come home for their next holiday. However, let’s not be fooled, what they really want, most of all, is to get back with their friends… Never mind, let’s enjoy having them back and take a back seat, from now on, happily…
This post first appeared on Lyliane Stewart’s site parentingeastwest.com on November 18, 2012.
Lyliane Stewart is a teacher, a positive discipline parent educator and a mother of two young adults. Originally from Switzerland, she lives with her husband in Beijing where she has been very active with the school community over the years. Her personal experience of living internationally in a cross-cultural family has given her a good understanding of the various challenges encountered by multi-cultural, multi-lingual expatriate families. Passionate about psychology and education, she founded Parenting East West to offer support to families around the world. Lyliane believes that by gaining a better understanding of ourselves, and of human relationships in general, we become better equipped for parenting. She offers weekly interactive parenting classes through which she introduces positive parenting tools and strategies.
The Mums2B group she started meets in Sanlitun weekly and welcomes new expectant parents.To get in touch, send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Dimattia Photography (flickr)