Spring is a time of new beginnings. Glance out any window and see the weather turning, flowers blooming, and pastel shades starting to blend in with winter clothing’s darker hues.
This is also the time of year when so many high school students (and their parents) are consumed with thoughts about the next school year.
High school juniors are stressed about taking standardized tests. High school seniors are contemplating graduation, which major or which dorm roommate to pick, and some are still waiting to get off a waitlist. Have they chosen the right school? Should they take on debt to make their dream come true?
What Moms Worry About with College-Bound Teens
Families are ruminating about course selections, tuition costs, student loans, and even how to get ALL that stuff transported to and then wedged into a diminutive dorm room.
Stress and worry become an unwelcome daily habit.
And because it’s the way of the world, Moms seem to bear the brunt of the family stress in most cases. We are the ones trying to deal with the circus of emotions, decisions and BIG choices. We are the ones who lie awake at night and begin to think the “worst case scenario” thoughts, while the rest of the house sleeps peacefully.
It’s not uncommon for us to look around for someone to blame for all this stress. And sadly, far too many Moms point the finger back right back at themselves.
“Maybe my kid didn’t score high enough on the ACT because I didn’t force him to sign up for that prep course.”
“My daughter probably can’t find a compatible roommate because I didn’t tell her to start looking early enough.”
“My son doesn’t know what to major in because I failed to nag him to go those career day presentations.”
“My child told her friend she felt pressured to pick her second-choice school because we said it was much more affordable.”
These are the kinds of things you hear Moms saying this time of year and I just wish I could sit down with every worried and stressed Mom and let them know it’s really going to be OK.
Because guilt and stress are robbing us Moms of peace and sleep and life satisfaction that we all so deserve to have.
Why Moms Shouldn’t Worry So Much About Their Teens
Here is what I’d like to share, with empathy and hindsight. A sort of mini-meditation, if you will:
Everything right now seems so fraught with strong emotions. These decisions that are so weighty today will be past you very soon, so please try your best to take just a few minutes, step back, find a quiet place and close your eyes.
Think of all the challenges and struggles you’ve made it through already with this child of yours. You have the strength and wisdom to get through this period as well. Remember those sleepless nights with an infant. How you never thought the deep fatigue would end. Think back for a minute to the tantrums, the potty training, and the meltdowns over truly insignificant issues.
You moved through them all. Each and every one.
Those days and nights that had you in tears, that made you hide out for a few minutes in a locked bathroom. The times you thought, “I just can’t do this.”
But you did do it.
And at times it was really messy. And pretty painful. But you persevered and as the years progressed, you were able to glance back and smile at many of those mountains you climbed. In some cases, you can laugh and recognize now that those enormous, craggy mountains were actually just mole hills. Dusty and crumbly, but rather insignificant.
Right now, these mountains seem like Everest. Insurmountable and impossible. The stakes feel so high now. Because our culture has overblown the significance of everything surrounding college.
And perhaps, your teen made some mistakes these past few years. They are kids, and that is normal. And maybe you made some mistakes, too. You are human, and no parent is perfect. Nor should we ever strive to be.
But please don’t dwell on the “We should have,” and “We could have.” Surrender to the past decisions and events and release them. It’s actually easier to do than you think, when you make a concerted effort.
Begin to remind yourself daily that there is nothing YOU did – or didn’t do – that is going to ruin your child’s future.
They will figure it all out.
College goes by in such a dizzying blur that these heavy and stressful decisions you are struggling with today will swiftly vanish like a magician’s assistant. You’ll be looking back at these mountains before you know it, and you’ll again see that they really were just slightly steeper mole hills.
Your peace is not worth the worry.
We take on this burden of worry for such crazy reasons. As if it will somehow help solve a problem. Or because we think no one else is doing it, and it needs to be done.
With a kind of twisted logic, we’ve worked our way into thinking that worrying is part of caring for our children. We can still love and care for our kids, without letting worry be a part of the equation.
Sometimes we believe that if we worry enough, it will help a solution to suddenly appear. What we need to remember is that a solution always appears, whether anyone is worrying or not. Believe in this inevitability.
Your child will find a college, if that is what they really want to do after high school. They will find a roommate. They will decide on a major. They will find a path, or be shown a path, on how to pay for college. And if you are paying, you have complete say in how much of your money you are willing to spend on their education.
The solutions will emerge.
They will figure it out. One way or another.
Step back and breathe deep, Moms.
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