How to Let Go of Your Graduate with Grace

May 17, 2018
Ann Brandt

You walk through the house, noting the quiet, remembering when your son left home.

In these moments between being asleep and awake, you may realize your life as a parent has changed.

Memories will crowd your mind of the days when your son depended on you for everything: the 2-year-old saying, “Me do it”; then the teenager with the shrug and the sigh. You have traveled a bumpy road in your role as a parent and emerged with a young adult.

Now What?
A nest suddenly empty presents a time when parents need assurance and encouragement. To get through the initial moments of loss and to begin navigating a lifestyle change, we need to ask God for guidance and strength, remembering He is near.

God has been there all along to sustain and encourage. But while we pray for ourselves, we should also pray for our families and our children as we release them. Praying will keep you in touch with your child in new ways. You can also have new experiences with God, seeing that He is in control—always.

Looking back may help during this life transition. Memories can be a source of strength as we relive times with our children.

It’s Good to Grieve, But Remember to Encourage
One of my friends is a mother grieving her child’s departure. She once said that “he may not include me in his daily life—where he goes and what he does—but it’s my prayer that one thing remains: that he stays passionate about his walk with the Lord.”

Now when they talk, she encourages his spiritual growth.

Another friend, who is a father, watches his 16-year-old daughter begin the 80-mile trek to the campus that has accepted her in an early college program. His parenting has been complicated by an emotionally draining divorce, so the daughter’s departure leaves a hole in his heart. Because of physical distance, everything is more difficult, even important conversations. With a feeling of pride mixed with sadness, he grieves at the idea that his little girl is all grown up.

“Will my son trust in God?”
In addition to a parent’s grief and sense of loss, the concern is always there: Will my son trust in God?

Let him or her know you are a prayer warrior; then, find comfort and joy spending time in prayer whenever he or she comes to mind.

With demands of school or work and constricting time schedules, communication may not be sufficient to quell your anxieties. Whether a child has left home to attend college, enter the work force, serve in the military or join the mission field, parents may still feel responsible for their child.

One of my friends who is a father recently shared his trouble with letting go. Now after his son has completed four years at college, the father hopes his son will show the love of God in the choices he makes in his career and through his outlook on life.

Focus on God’s Promises
Be intentional about affirming your son or daughter. Try sending notes or showing up for special occasions. Make new memories together.

This is a different season for you. But releasing your graduate to God and trusting His sovereignty can turn the loss into much greater gain.

The promises of God are for both graduates and parents: “For I know the plans I have for you … plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jer. 29:11-12).

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