Baumgardner: Helping the bird fly from the nest

Baumgardner: Helping the bird fly from the nest

April 27th, 2014 by By Julie Baumgardner in Life Entertainment

If you are the parent of a graduating high school senior, you have probably heard more than once: 'I can't wait until I don't have to listen to your rules and I can do whatever I want.'

Graduation is almost here and many seniors are giddy over the idea of heading off to college, where they will decide for themselves when to go to bed, where they keep their phone and computer and how late they stay out.

But as the time approaches for them to launch, many seniors who were super-confident at graduation start wondering: What if I chose the wrong college? What if I don't make any friends? What if I am choosing the wrong career track?

Not unlike their teen, many parents are experiencing a mixed bag of emotions; they're excited about their child taking the next step, yet somewhat fearful about what the future holds. They realize a big transition is coming and there are still nuggets of wisdom they wish to pass on, yet they don't have much time to do it. They become clingy at a time when their teen is trying to be more independent. This can make for a very interesting and long summer.

The good news is, all of this is a natural reaction to graduation. And there are ways parents can help their senior successfully leave the nest with confidence. Here are some tips:

• One of the greatest gifts you can give them is to let them talk about all the things running through their minds without minimizing what they may be feeling. Just listen.

• Remind them that, when seeds of doubt get planted in their mind, they can choose to water them and let the lies grow or they can pluck them out quickly before the roots get too strong.

A little stress isn't necessarily a bad thing. Any new journey we go on will, by definition, produce anxiety. You can't help but wonder about this, that and the other. The little bit of anxiety goes a long way to help us perform at our best.

Point out to them that the college applicant pools have never been larger than they are now. If they received an acceptance letter, they can rest assured that the institution believes they can handle the work. The letter speaks volumes about the preparedness they bring to the college campus.

• Don't believe that nobody on the college campus will care. There are many people who want to see students do well.

• As a parent, you may be struggling, too. Instead of trying to talk through this with your senior, find other parents who are already on this journey and seek their wisdom and support.

• If you have always done your teen's laundry, cooked all meals, managed the money and helped him or her get to school/job on time -- STOP. The summer is a great time to learn how to do these things for themselves, since you won't be accompanying them to college.

Julie Baumgardner is the president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at