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Parents of graduates, What would you do differently?

High school grads

Over the weekend, I watched as gorgeously dressed high school seniors stood outside posing for photos in their prom attire. It's strange but I can still remember that excitement mixed with fear that I felt as the last few weeks of high school came to an end.

Now, I'm starting to get that same feeling. I know my time is coming soon to send my oldest off to college and as a parent, I’m excited for what lies ahead for them but I'm not ready to let go.

I have a freshman and a sophomore in high school, and this year I began changing as a parent. I saw my teens becoming more independent and I began to give them some room to mature. Now, I'm watching my friends’ children and my nephew making college plans and securing their dorm assignments and I’m realizing that my time to influence my teens on a daily basis will be short-lived.

I’ve been asking my peers with kids off at college what they would have done differently as parents, what lessons they may inadvertently had neglected to teach their kids. Do their kids know how to do laundry, address an envelope, make a homemade meal? Do they know how to change a flat tire, french braid hair, write a check or keep tabs on the balance of a checking account?

Suddenly, I feel pressure. I know it’s the big lessons that count the most — how to be a good friend, how to be an ethical student or employee, how to communicate with someone rather than shut them out. But the small things count too.

So for those of you who have experienced sending a high school graduate off to college or into the real world, what would you have done differently before they left? Most of us are so busy balancing work and family that we overlook the opportunity for teaching moments. What lessons about work and life should I cram into the next two years before my oldest daughter graduates?

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