Surviving Your Child’s Senior Year

Gina Butz parenting, perspective 6 Comments

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

It’s finally here: our son is a senior in high school. This thought instills in me an equal mix of terror and grief. We have to help our son navigate all the craziness of this year to do the very thing we don’t want him to do, which is to leave us. Cue tears.

I want to do this well, though. Hopefully, we look back and say we navigated this year with grace, wisdom, and hope. We feel like we made the most of it. I’ve been pondering what that might look like, and I’ve decided on four words as our mantra:

  1. Celebrate

    Let’s begin with a hearty celebration for getting to this place. He’s come a long way from the boy who put an unpopped kernel of corn in his own ear because his sister wisely wouldn’t let him put it in hers. He has learned to navigate life in three countries, discovered life passions, learned to drive, held down a job, made deep and lasting friendships, and embraced his own walk with Jesus. This is all worth celebrating.

    But God’s goodness to him has only begun, and it is sure. The word “celebrate” leads us to a mindset of gratitude and expectancy. When we are tempted to be overwhelmed and we need prayer, begin by thanking God for what He is doing.

    And after we plant ourselves in God’s goodness, we need to:

  2. Breathe

    It is easy to look at the business of AP classes and college applications and financial aid, and run for the hills. But getting through this year will be the kind of journey that is “one day at a time,” and probably “each moment at a time.”

    So when it all feels like too much, take a deep breath and be in the moment, both to experience it fully, but also to remember that it’s all going to be ok. This breathing has already begun in our house, in earnest. I’ve grabbed my son by the shoulders and done it with him. Lots of deep breathing happening around here.

    We breathe in God’s strength, wisdom, and guidance in every second. Then breathe out the fears and uncertainty, letting His presence with us be our rock of refuge and rest. Next, we:

  3. Trust

    Easier said than done, but what a great opportunity this year will be to grow in our trust that God is greater than anything we face. The older our kids get, the greater the challenges. We could let that cause us to up the control ante, or we could release the reins altogether. Trust that even though we have to release them more and more, His grip on them is greater than ours, and never loosens.

    Isaiah 26:3 says that the perfect peace we seek for this year is found as we depend completely on the One we trust. And as our school administrator shared with us during orientation, “You feel like you’ve been dropped in the deep end of the ocean. But remember that God is the Creator of the ocean.” He will guide each step. He can be counted on to carry us.

  4. Savor

    When life feels tough, it’s tempting to rush through the stress and exhaustion to reach the finish line, but if we do that, we will miss the journey God has for us along the way.

    Instead, let’s savor every moment. Linger over meals and family times and the last ponderings of each day. Live this year fully present, putting aside our tasks to make space for just being together. Hold each minute just a little longer and recognize the gift it is. We want to slow down time, but if we can’t, at least we can relish it like the richest of fare.

If you’re with me in this boat, let me know. I’d love to hear how you hope to journey well as you launch your child. If you’ve already been through this, I welcome wisdom. If this is your future, it’s never to early to start practicing these attitudes.

Wherever are you on your journey, would you pray for me? With God’s help, we won’t just survive this year, but it will be a year when we experience Him deeply.


Related posts:

As the Ride Winds Down: Thoughts on the Last Moments of Childhood

When You Just Have to Do One Day at a Time 

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Comments 6

  1. First, Congratulations to Ethan! This is really an exciting time for him. I remember when we went through it in our house. I am loving your words/mantra. Sadly, we blink and our children are grown. Mine are 27 and 24. Careers, Master’s degrees, apartments, etc. Savoring is really important for it will not be this easy(I know that is difficult to believe) for any of you again. Adulting is hard for the child and the parent.
    Some words of wisdom…Apply for any and all scholarships you ate eligible for because any amount helps. Start your FREE FAFSA form for financial aid way before you file taxes. You just click “will file” and go back later. Money is earmarked on need and first come first serve. The earlier you fill it out the better. Do things with classmates and go to things at school. No student has ever looked back and said I wish I had been less involved in school my senior year but almost all who aren’t look back with regret. Most importantly, enjoy being a “kid” at home just a little bit longer and the family can enjoy having you there.

  2. What a fabulous year! I love your mantra. Let me know if I can help with anything – as a high school counselor I’ve helped guide many families through this milestone. Enjoy the journey!

  3. Thank you, Gina, for a great perspective on this year. I can’t imagine what is in store for our sweet girl, but I so need to be holding on tight to my Anchor for this ride!
    Hopefully expectant,
    Grace and Peace,

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