This time of year is bittersweet. Your Senior is about to graduate from high school and start building a new life for themselves, but you may not feel ready for this immense change, or to begin your own next chapter — these feelings are completely normal and valid. Take comfort in knowing that life will be changing for every member of your family, which means that you will have the opportunity to navigate the challenging (and exciting!) times ahead as a team. Here are a few tips to help bring everyone together, as graduation day approaches.

Cherish the Remaining Time

Plan a few stress-free events that you can enjoy as a family over the course of the Summer. Although it may feel like the Fall is a million miles away, the next few months will go by quickly, so stay focused on appreciating each day that you have left with your child before they begin their new adventure. This is the perfect time to connect, laugh and build new memories!

Perhaps you used to go on spontaneous weekend road trips, plan elaborate camping excursions, schedule themed movie nights or cook your favorite meals together. There is no better time to bring those beloved family activities back to life — or start some new traditions — and get in some last-minute bonding before your child leaves for college, starts their military career or heads into the workforce. Planning a gathering to celebrate their graduation is also a great way to bring people together and encourage your child to take pride in their many accomplishments!

Openly Address Worries

Your student is bound to have a sea of worries swirling around in their mind at this pivotal point in time. Although the stresses of high school are nearing a close, they will most certainly have mounting fears concerning their next steps and looming life decisions. Many teens have insecurities surrounding making new friends after high school, or choosing a career path that suits their acquired skillset and personality.

Starting college, taking on a new job or meeting fresh faces can leave even the most self-assured person feeling emotionally vulnerable or overwhelmed. However, if you take the initiative to openly discuss your child’s fears, expectations and dreams — and provide your expert guidance — it can help give them the ability to navigate difficult circumstances with a bit more ease and confidence.

Talk About Freedom & Responsibility

Many life lessons must be learned outside of the classroom. Take time to sit down with your student and talk about the basics of personal finance (e.g., how to keep track of money, when and how to use credit, and guidelines surrounding borrowing money from friends), how to prioritize school and/or work obligations, and how they can proactively take care of themselves mentally and emotionally.

Once your child is out of the house, they will be free to make their own decisions and dictate their own schedule — it is imperative that they understand what to prioritize and when to take cognitive breaks. Being out in the world on your own can be an exciting and confusing experience, but you have the power to give your student a head start, by preparing them for real life situations that may come up and giving them the necessary tools to succeed.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

It is natural for young adults to crave independence – meeting new people, making new friends, trying new things and building their own identity is crucial in this stage of life. You may feel tempted to check in regularly to see how they are doing, but keep in mind that this is their time to test drive independence (and yes, make a few mistakes along the way). Remember that you raised a smart, caring and responsible child who can and will make well-informed decisions.

A great way to stay connected is to reinforce that you are always available to talk, and that they have your unwavering support — giving them a bit of space and allowing them to come to you with questions and concerns as they arise will make them feel autonomous, respected and empowered to forge their own path forward. The days ahead are precious and fleeting, so take this time to celebrate your grad & appreciate every moment that you still have them at home!