One of my favorite Keith Urban songs, trust me, there are many and that’s for a different post, is “Raise ‘Em Up. In this song, we sentimentally raise a glass for a lot of reasons, and we also raise our kids up “tall and strong” to “learn right from wrong”. (@KeithUrban and @EricChurch, this makes me cry every time I watch it.) I digress. But not really.
I know, as parents, we are supposed to guide, nurture, love and provide our children with all of the best we have to offer and then send them on their way. Launch them! Right? Agggggggh. It’s like ripping my heart out of my chest every time. I’ve done it twice now and both times, the sadness is overwhelming to me. The anxiety wakes me up in the middle of the night. The worry and the what-ifs are never ending.
Raise “Em Up and Launch them on their way! I wonder if Keith and Eric can come back together on a new song about parents getting out of the way to let their kids get on with their lives….
Recently, I had the honor of working with a group of high school juniors and seniors, who were wicked smart and just did not have a lot of background on college. We were together to work through that. It was a fascinating class to learn what is on the minds of youth these days who were about to get on with their lives. One of the things that has stuck with me is they wanted to talk. They wanted to talk about what was on their minds. TV and movies can often portray youth as disconnected and self-absorbed. This is not my experience. The youth I encounter are engaged and desperate for interaction. Some of them are searching for their person to interact with safely, but they do want a person.
The class covered a lot of personal introspection. They would journal and share, if they chose to do so. At several points in the semester, I mentioned to my own daughter, then a senior in high school, “I wish you were in this class!”
But why wasn’t I just asking her some of these same questions? What did she think her big hurdles were going to be in college? What was she most stressed about? And importantly – how was she going to handle that hurdle? How was she going to handle her stress? I felt quite comfortable asking a stranger’s children these intimate questions and asking them to journal and then share them with me and an entire class. Yet, I did not want to intrude on my own child. WTH?
Finally, we were able to cover some of this ground on some long car rides and during some coveted lunches before she left for college and I cherish those conversations. I will keep asking because as I learned in “Angst” an educational and inspirational movie about childhood/teen anxiety, one of the tools our kids have in their belts is talking to someone they trust.
Talk to someone you trust.
We, collectively, as people, haven’t forgotten how to talk, we have just gotten lazy.
The social media posts of everyone going off to college and looking so happy – parents and kids. That can be tough, right? Tough on the college-bound young adult, tough on the parents, maybe even the siblings. Everyone looks so happy online. No one is posting that this sucks at first, trying to make friends and adjust, and eat strange food, and it’s like someone just cut off one or our appendages and we’re trying to figure out how to breathe over here.
So, let’s Raise ‘Em Up, be ever so grateful for every moment together and launch them forward to be independent, adults who are going to take this world by storm and call and talk to us as often as they can.