S is for “Senior Year” and Here are 8 S’s to Help You Get Ready

You may be wondering how you got here, with your kid about to start senior year. You’re not alone. It was yesterday that you saw (or in my case could not make out) a flickering black and white image on an ultrasound screen that the technician told you was the image of your child.

In the last 18 years you have gone from completely clueless to slightly less clueless, passing through every degree of cluelessness along your journey. And each time you had a momentary flash of, “I’m getting pretty good at this,” a new stage arrived to burst your bubble cementing that perennially confused expression on your face, you know, the one that accompanies the question, “What the hell?”

Take a moment to thank the heavens that junior year is over. Somehow miraculously you made it through this year and I say “you” because we all know that it was a herculean, team effort. There is almost exactly a year left until high school graduation. Time to ride this baby to the finish line. Don’t panic but be prepared.

Senior year of high school

Learning your S’s will help:


No matter what your child’s next move is, transitions are always accompanied by stress. This is a difficult time for all of you. Your child probably has little idea what they want to do with their lives and yet they have an urgent sense that they must figure it all out RIGHT NOW. Or conversely they may be so directed that one little misstep on what they perceived as their chosen path may throw them into a complete meltdown. Either way-STRESS.

When they were younger you could usually figure out a way to help them move forward, to comfort them, to relieve their anxiety but now the issues are “real life” issues and there are just some things kids need to figure out for themselves.Most things will declare themselves with the passage of time, but it’s hard to sit on your hands and watch them struggle to work through things on their own. Cut the kids some slack when they struggle with angst. You are their North Star. Just be there for them.

Soiling the Nest

Because of the aforementioned stress, you may experience the phenomenon of soiling of the nest. It’s easiest to take out your anxiety and stress on parents whose love for you is unconditional so sometimes before the actual leave-taking there is a pulling away. Breathe. Your sweet child will be back but sometimes they make a mess of things before they go because it makes leaving easier.


They have just had it with school and you have just had it with their attitude and with the emotional roller coaster that senior year becomes. They are done-they’ve worked hard and they are feeling the unshackling of the chains that have bound them to this place and these people for the last eighteen years. Give them some space, this too shall pass.


Your emotions and their emotions will be all over the map. One day you want to kick them to the curb and the next you can’t bear the thought of them leaving. You know, of course, that this is all happening in the normal course and it’s simply the way of life. Yet there is so much sadness unfurling around it. For them and for you. The sadness will pass.


Senior year comes with some added expenses, senior portraits, prom, lots of graduation gifts. Be prepared to shell out a few extra dollars this year.


Lots of eye rolling and exasperated sighs, lots and lots of them. And lots of fights, mind-changing, tears and drama surrounding the college process. Deadlines loom. You’re talking dorm decor before they are even admitted. Sigh. And finally a huge sigh of relief coupled with tears of joy and sadness on graduation day. Gigantic sigh.


When you least expect it, you will share a moment with your child that will surprise you. Shockingly, they will admit that you were right about something. They will tell you they love you or they’ll miss you. You will look at them standing this way or that, and suddenly you will see an adult, a real, honest to goodness man or woman where yesterday stood a child.

Sleep and Self-Care

It’s an exhausting and chaotic year. Take care of yourself and each other. Don’t forget to sleep!!! When they were younger you had a parent group that you could access with your concerns. These days, it’s harder to unburden yourself because you feel like you’re throwing your child under the bus when you complain about them.

Go ahead and share your side of things with other parents of teens. You need the support now as much as you ever have. Before you know it, it will be time to step back and let go, because it will be high time for the final “s,” watch them soar.


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About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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