When did my baby grow up? A question every parent asks as they send their child off to college or as they launch them into life. As we are homeschooling high school, every parent processes the feelings of letting go differently. Whether you struggle with the process or not, you may be sad, glad, or simply relieved.
One thing homeschoolers have in common is that they love their children — they love having children, being around them, and having their children live at home. Letting go affects everybody differently, so don't feel as if your experience makes you a worse parent than the next. Each person has their own reaction to the process of letting their child go.
I surveyed homeschool parents on what concerned them most about life after high school and was surprised that many parents were extremely distraught over the concept of letting go. Usually they felt adrift as they navigated through uncharted territory, confused by the role of parents at this stage. They didn't feel as if they could say anything to their teenagers. Parents were also afraid of what might happen to their children as they navigate roommates and deal with drug use, drinking, and making their own decisions when they're out of the nest on their own.
College breaks can be a roller coaster of emotions. One moment everyone is close, loving, and crying or celebrating together, and the next parents may experience anger and frustration with the young adult. One mother experienced painful and confusing emotions each time her daughter came home from college. Issues came up and the mother struggled and worried she hadn't done enough. How could she ever get her disorganized, immature teenager to succeed? It was as if her daughter was Joan of Arc one minute and the Wicked Witch of the West the next.
Eventually, parents are ready for their children's problems not to be their problems anymore. They need to be released from both the burden of hanging on and the guilt of letting go.
Many feelings emerge at the end of homeschooling high school. These feelings can include pain, eagerness, insecurity, confusion, overwhelming concern, worry, and loss. It can be a struggle to handle your own emotions.
Of course, your homeschooled child has not always been well-behaved, and life has not always been blissful — I've been a homeschool parent and I know what it's like. Most parents feel sad and confused when the time comes to let the kids go. Like baby birds that fly the nest, when it's time, it's time — they'll stand in that nest, flap their wings, and take off, whether you're trying to hold them back or not.
The end of homeschooling means change will happen. You can look forward to an extra buffer of time and sanity in your life. You'll have more time and energy, and you can use it to accomplish goals and not merely wish you could accomplish them. Consider devoting yourself to helping others, developing your own social group in your community, immersing yourself in enjoyable activities, cultivating your faith in a rich, spiritual life every day, improving yourself or society, and enjoying peace and nature.
Appreciate the best society has to offer with refinement in the arts, enjoy the total simplicity you've longed for such as easy-going friendships without all the chaos of kids, and have more control over behavior that has caused you grief, such as stressing out about your spiritual life or weight control. Self-sufficiency also comes along — you can gain more independence from other people or activities. All you need to do is get to the end of homeschooling and somehow remain sane. I'm here to help.
This book draws on all my life experience. I struggled with my own launch into the world because I hadn't been raised properly. I know too much about codependency, enabling, and alcoholism due to my family of origin, as well as my years of nursing. When I was in college, I didn't only take nursing classes, I also took an exceptionally large number of psychology classes to learn about child development, unhealthy choices, and mental illness.
In my years as a registered nurse, I saw the consequences of not preparing kids with the life skills they needed to be safe and healthy. I've worked as a counselor at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, a pro-life organization, to help young adults. Nine times out of ten, the kids were shocked by what had happened to them; most of the kids who sought help at the Crisis Pregnancy Center came from great families, but they had made mistakes.
I have taken all my life experiences, wrapped them up in a bow and given them to you in this book. I hope you find it helpful.
This is a chapter from my book, Letting Go After Homeschooling High School. It's the featured book of the month in March. You can get your own copy in print or Kindle here.