Long Good-bye: Senior Year Farewells
By Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW
Focus is on Friends
The last dance, last pep rally, and last study hall ... Senior year
in high school is a long series of farewells, most of them highly
emotional. As unsettling as it may be to leave their 13-year careers
as students, seniors' most wrenching good-byes are usually their
good-byes to friends.
they're leaving home for college or the workplace, they know that
they can always come home to reconnect with family. But those treasured
friends who shared their lives and knew them best... they might
never see them again. And although they swear to each other that
they will stay in touch, the possibility that this is a final farewell
is almost too much to bear.
of this unbearable notion of terminal separation, many seniors'
last summer before leaving home is consumed by an urgent need to
spend as much time as possible with their friends. It's a summer
of endless parties and little time at home. A time for hanging out
with and hanging onto their friends. Time spent in anxious recognition
of what and whom they are leaving, while being totally unsure of
what truly lies ahead.
should not feel neglected, rejected or shunned by their seniors'
spending so much of their free time with friends. Instead of making
your kids feel guilty about not being with you or breaking curfews
(strict curfews are difficult to maintain during the long summer
of good-byes), tell them that you know how tough it is to say good-bye
to their friends. Invite their friends for dinner. Host a couple
of parties for them and their friends. Share how you felt during
this emotional summer, when you were in their shoes.
Time for Family Good-Byes
Even though their outward focus is on savoring every last moment
with friends, your children know all too well that they are also
leaving home and leaving you. The life that they have shared with
you is changing forever. They may even provoke arguments with you,
give you more attitude and lip in an unconscious attempt to make
it easier to leave you. It's easier for seniors to say to one another,
"My family's driving me crazy. I can't wait to leave."
than to tearfully admit, "I don't know how I'm going to leave
the midst of your seniors' frenetic, friends-focused summer, make
a strong effort to arrange times for them to say family good-byes.
Your departing children need their one-on-one farewells with you,
their siblings and other close family members. Don't expect them
to acknowledge that they need these intimate moments. They're too
busy avoiding and denying fear and heartache.
help them out -- drop them off at their grandmother's and pick them
up in a couple of hours, give them some money and ask them to take
their younger sibling out for ice cream. When you arrange for them
to spend time alone with these loved family members, you give them
a chance to say their right and proper good-byes. In this summer
of the long goodbye, this last summer of their childhood, your children
need your help to let go...and to hang on.
Kendrick, Ed.M.,LCSW received his undergraduate and graduate degrees
from Harvard University. He is a family therapist, speaker and co-author
of, "Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're Going to Grandma's:
Holding On, Hanging In and Letting Go of Your Teen" (Unlimited
Publishing (March 1, 2003). For information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org