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April 20, 2017

It’s Not You; It’s Me

“I apologize…for all the times I took my issues and made them yours.”
(Kristin Van Ogtrop, “A letter of apology to a son graduating from college”)

As we approach the end to another school year, some of us are more reflective than others. That usually depends on whether your kid is crossing a recognized milestone, like graduation or the transition to middle school.

Well, as one mother did in the quote above, this reflection may lead you to apologize. Perhaps you’ve got something specific to make amends for, perhaps not. What most all of us can offer is something like Ms. Van Ogtrop’s: I am sorry for mixing up your issues with my own. For instance:

—My anxiety about your grades was far too much about whether I was the one your parent.
—My pushing you in sports was far too much about my need for you to succeed
—My difficulty in helping you through that emotional time was not that I didn’t care; I just didn’t know how to stop helping and just listen.
—My harsh punishment wasn’t because I was mad, it’s because I wasn’t able to manage my fear about your future.

If none of these feel right, and you feel no need to apologize, then great. Love and laugh through this transition. If one of these seems to resonate, though, or something else comes to mind, give your kids a graduation gift: Take what’s yours back off their backs.

(And if you really do need an actual graduation gift, check out Choose Your Own Adulthood!)

Peace begins with pause,

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