Letting Go of the Child Who Graduates

letting go child graduates
PC by Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay

The time of year has come for the expat communities of the world – that time of ebb and flow of suitcases, boxes and RAFT building. At times it may feel more like emotional waves crashing, letting go of a child who graduates can be specially daunting.

As a mom of a son who will soon begin his year of “lasts”, this has been on my heart: how will I let him go with grace and peace?

From birth we begin raising our kids to become independent people who we hope will be able to thrive and grow well after they leave our protective care. We teach them how to wash clothes, cook meals, and clean bathrooms. My son knows how to order train tickets and travel by various modes of transportation in Taiwan. He’ll be getting his driver’s license soon. He is growing up. He is becoming more independent. That’s the goal, right? But, if I’m honest, the more I see him “grow up” the more I want to put on the breaks of life. I don’t want to say good-bye. I don’t want to let go.

But time doesn’t stop.

PC Cindy Parks via Pixabay

Letting Go of Child Who Graduates

Our family has had many opportunities for perfecting our RAFT building. We move every few years and, as difficult as it has been, I’m finding that being the one that stays behind just might prove to be more difficult. As his last “first day of school” approaches next month and I battle those feelings I had last year dropping him off at his dorm, I have decided to be proactive in ways to help me be able to let him go next year with grace and peace.

PC: the2me via Pixabay

1. Be intentional

The school year may seem like a long time, but it can slip by without a thought. I want to attend as many games/events that I can. When he is home, I want to take time together playing games, hanging at the beach, or things that we love to do as a family.

2. Ponder

I want to take time to remember the past and give thanks. I want to pull out scrapbooks off the shelf and reflect with my husband. I want to finish the scrapbooks I’ve started.

3. Be mindful

As I ponder and am intentional with my son, I also want to be mindful of the RAFT he will be building. I want to be mindful that he needs time and space to say good-bye to his friends and places that have become special to him. Mindful of his needs, not just my own.

4. Show grace

I need to extend grace towards him during those times he chooses to hang out with his friends over hanging out with us. Grace towards myself as I try to do all that I plan, but find that I can’t. Grace towards my husband and girls as we each deal with this loss in different ways.

letting go child graduates
PC rainer koch via Pixabay


It doesn’t really matter what my heart wants in this matter.  This time next year, he will be packing, ready to leave for his next adventure. I can choose to cling and grasp, fighting to hold on. Or I can exhale and choose to enjoy this final year with him.

I plan to choose joy.

How about you? Do you have any tips or advice? Please share in the comments below.


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MaDonna is a writer who focuses on third culture kids. She married one and they are raising three. She calls her family the "fusion family" as they seem to be fused together by race, culture, and disabilities. You can find her writing at www.raisingtcks.com.

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