From Dr. Jane's Notebook
High School Grad Leave the Nest
Graduation from high school represents not only an accomplishment by a student, but
also an important life transition. In most cases, this is the time of life when "the
baby bird leaves the nest" and young people move out of their parent's home. Just as
it is critically important for the baby bird to be successful on its first flight out of
the nest, it is equally important for young people to be successful when they leave home.
Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
- When Children leave home, they need their parents' blessing. This is a
difficult life transition. It takes "guts" to strike out on one's own and take
care of one's self, beyond the shelter of one's parents. As such, an important ingredient
for success is self-confidence. Self-confidence comes from prior successes and
encouragement from parents. Children need people who are "on their side" and who
have faith in them. Otherwise, they approach life with fear and a sense of inferiority. In
other words, baby birds need to hear words of encouragement and support from their parents
in order to believe that they will survive.
- We teach them skills all along the way. Preparation for life begins
early. As babies, our kids learn to trust others, feel valued and feel secure. As they
grow, we reward them for their accomplishments and we help them become inspired. We
accompany our children through their childhoods, offerring them the benefits of our
experience and nurturance during their trials and tribulations. Age eighteen is usually
the culmination of our time to teach our children about life, not the time to begin.
- Kids need to go to college. College represents the half way point
between dependence and independence. At eighteen, kids are not adequately prepared to
compete in the world. They may have learned many facts, but they may not yet have learned
to think for themselves. Regardless of their intended occupation, college life offers
intellectual development with a certain amount of structure and a certain amount of
freedom. Beyond academics, college students learn how to work and live with other people.
These are skills which should not to be underestimated.
Colleges are designed as living and learning environments for young people. They live
on campus with resident advisors, and they eat communal style in cafeterias. Under the
watchful eye of teachers and their peers, college students gain valuable life experiences
which prepare them to compete in the world. In contrast, when young adults graduate high
school and then lack a formal structure, they often "get lost" and settle into
jobs, careers and lifestyles which are not well-planned.
- Parents can remain the Safe Base for their children. As toddlers begin
to crawl, walk and wander away from their parents, they maintain a comfortable distance so
that they can return to their "safe base" as needed. As our children grow, we
hopefully remain their safe base from which to explore the world. When they achieve early
adulthood, young people still look to their parents for encouragement and approval and a
safe place to return from time to time. Having a safe base helps young people take risks
with self-confidence and a sense of security. Helping children achieve their independence
is like preparing for a surgical operation. When they express self-doubt, it is our job to
provide the needed boost to their confidence. They need to know that they will be okay.
As our children grow, we are reminded that they are not our possessions, and we cannot
control their lives for very long. In a sense, we are like elevators in the buildings of
their lives. We help them achieve certain levels, but eventually, they must get off the
elevator and choose their own floor.
ęCopyright, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated October 18, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,