best transition ever: grandparenting
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Freshman year has ended and she is home for the summer

April 30, 2004 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

By Natalie Caine |

Freshman year has ended and she is home for the summer. My husband and I, as well as my girlfriends all talked at different times about the adjustment to the “kids” being back in the house…all the common issues of them staying up late, the noise, the messy rooms, the food, laundry, schedules changing, plans erratic, and the excitement of hearing and seeing them and their friends.

Talking about this with each other didn’t change the feelings around it…It was difficult for every mom; all with their own issues and the common ones.

The kids were use to not needing to answer to any parental figures and the parents were used to communicating from a far, as well as, having their new beginnings and the territory to themselves..

What about communicating out of respect, like what time will you be home…or , just leave a message if you aren’t coming home…What about responsibilities at home; pitching in and making their own money. Most of all, what about time together for fun and getting to reconnect.

The answer is that there isn’t one. A new dance must be choreographed between each parent and child. It is an unfolding with each family hopefully having discussions without unrealistic expectations and old solutions like, you are grounded, those need to be put away, they are in college now.

Holding the boundaries that really affect your heart and lifestyle do matter but at the same time the family dynamic needs to change to going with the flow and being aware of their major transition.

All of us are beginners and hopefully willing to learn and make mistakes…JUST KEEP THAT COMMUNICATION OPEN AND AVAILABLE….

Essentially…simplify! They may have known before to turn off the lights but now, when they don’t, its not disrespect, it’s that the light situation of the household is impossible to focus on. If they remember, great, if not, they’re heads are somewhere else. It can feel like they’re selfish or don’t care about what parents give to them, but look at who our kids are, if there is real disrespect in them, they would not show it through manipulating the lighting system of the house.

And cleaning their room, when did they ever do that? Putting things back in the “proper” place, keeping the noise down, I don’t think they have access to that dial.

So maybe they never volunteer to help out…it’s a bummer but they know by now it would be nice, they just don’t do it. It’s pretty much a no go when it comes to extra helping out but when they ask for help, when they call to see what you’re doing, when they just sort of look at you and say hi, you know they care, it’s just in a different form right now.

We see them maturing, we see them growing and wobbly, they look older…older than high school kids…they are smart and more independent and we love that.

They are adjusting to not having their college routine; college friends, the structure that they have been leaning into, and their partying weekends (that believe me they know they can’t be open about at home)

They also feel the shift of parents, the relaxation and letting go by being in their safe haven of home, and the contrast of …I don’t want to talk to you parents about my issues right now…I am separated more and want to figure things out or ask my friends…

For me , this time is a huge reminder that what I really want, is for my kid to be happy, to feel at home, to find her own way with her thoughts and decisions and to still know that I am always here for her…

My child continues to remind me, in her new presence, that my role is to live my life, and to be real and loving with her, which includes all my feelings that might get triggered. I am present with her, remembering in each moment that what really matters, is that we want to learn how to love each other and to be honest with each other, granted this is difficult at times.

We can do this by pausing, talking to our spouses and friends and sorting things out before blowing up at them. Thinking it through and being aware of when is a good time for them, as we know their moods are still changing.

And then comes the talk. “Well, now you have been home for awhile and this is what has come up for me, what I need. Yes, parents have needs and boundaries too and they really do get that. They get we are human more now than last year because we haven’t been doing everything for them and they have felt what it is like to have more to do and no parent to motivate, organize, or remind. The college transition is a major stage of life development that college offers our kids. The biggest stage of their GROWING UP…. That’s one reason they made an earlier path of studying in school and developing friendships and extra activities, so they could get into college…it is a journey and they are feeling it, more now than ever, because they feel these new growth pains….

We need to remember they are on a journey…it is not all done now after one year of college. They need our love, encouragement, teachings, and time appropriate honesty…they really do. It is the best teacher, the honest kind of support.

They have so many new feelings and thoughts that they are sorting and they need to know we love them just as they are, even when we are flipping out about some of their behaviors…we really are their anchor so they can keep shoving off…

This is their journey and so often the troubles come when we, as parents, project our history and how we think they ought to be stepping in their life…yes, we can give opinions, but practice not being attached to the results… we want them to find their own way….

June 2004

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Natalie Caine, M.A.