Surviving Senior Year Conversations
Together we have sat in bleachers, auditoriums, and endless meetings. We organized countless school events. We cheered for the victories and endured the algebra teacher from the super-hot place. We collectively dropped our jaws over the insane coach who was fired in the middle of the season and rolled our eyes at the other parents who we were certain were taking all of this WAY too seriously.
But as the senior year rolls into focus, in between efforts to make every moment of the year the most amazing experience possible, we grapple with the realization that the band is breaking up. Each senior trumpet player, first baseman, cheerleader, lead in the school musical, and honor student is going to go their separate way in just a few months. And conversations about district titles and full bellies before our kids take the field segue into discussions of an impending huge decision.
Let’s talk strategy: Surviving Senior Year Conversations as a Mom
Surviving Senior Year Conversations: 8 Strategies
“So, what is Tyler doing next year?”
This question is a dose of reality that not only is the band breaking up, but so are most of the moms. Why? Because even though we have spent hours and hours with these women for years, our relationships may have been solely based on common interests and goals.
And now these interests are diverging. This divergence reveals itself as we talk about “next year.” Rather than a common competitor in the opposing team, we now compete by sharing our children’s futures. Without meaning to we hurt each other, and experience hurt by comparing our processes and plans.
So how should we navigate these rough waters? Should we not even talk about next year? Pretend we are not all stressed and anxious?
The same way we navigate other sticky situations – with a whole lot of grace for the annoying, a tender heart for those who are scared out of their minds, and confidence in our own child and decisions.
Here are a few thoughts for healthy conversations with other moms and even very close friends and relatives about your child’s future and their child’s future.
Strategy #1 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Acceptance
Accept that not everyone is going to make the same decision. Some best friends since kindergarten go to college together, room together, and major in the same thing and it all works out swimmingly. But, most don’t.
Strategy #2 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Humility
Be humble. We all want to shout our child’s accomplishments from the rooftops of social media, but it can be painful or annoying to others.
Strategy #3 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Prayer
Pray and then pray some more for wisdom in helping your child make good decisions about the future.
Strategy #4 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Perspective
Genuinely celebrate the accomplishments of your child’s friends and classmates. Remember that blessings are not pieces of a pie. If one person gets a huge blessing, it does not make the blessings for everyone else smaller. Blessings are an infinite commodity.
Strategy #5 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Pull away when necessary
Pull away from consistently uncomfortable situations. You are not required endless patience with non-stop talk of their child’s plans or unhelpful advice about your own child.
Strategy #6 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Focus
Help your child make the absolute best decision for them and only them. The annals of counselor’s notes are filled with stories of kids who left college or changed their major. When asked why they chose that school or major, they often say, “Because my parents told me to.” Keep the focus on them and their needs and not your need for validation as a parent who “trained them up in the way they should go.”
Strategy #7 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Give Grace
Know that all the parents and kids sit uncomfortably on a powder keg of uncertainty, fear, excitement, anticipation, and sometimes dread, while at the same time navigating the emotions of the senior year where every event is a reminder that things will not ever be the same again. Give each other grace.
Strategy #8 for Surviving Senior Year Conversations: Create Deeper Relationships
If there is another mom in the group you have always connected with on a deeper level than concession stand organization (or you think you might be able to), invite them to coffee or lunch and tell them you want to stay connected and be friends outside of the activity which initially brought you together. Many of your friendships with the moms of your child’s teammates and friends will naturally fade except for catching up when you run into each other in the grocery store or following them on social media. Work to keep the ones which are meaningful to you.
And finally, enjoy the year without crumbling if the senior year is not the realization of every dream and expectation you and your child have ever had. Sometimes a sophomore beats your child out for the starting position, solo, or leadership position she has always expected. Sometimes prom is a disaster. Sometimes you can’t afford the college they want. Your child may tell you things you do not want to hear about how their plans differ from what you think they should be.
The senior year of high school is one moment in time. Keep it in perspective. Find the women you can comfortably share with and listen to. If they ask your child’s plans, be genuine. Share your fears as well as your excitement. Avoid the clichés. Embrace them and their fears and excitement. Take some deep breaths and know that God is in control.
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