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The Competent Parent: Graduation Stress


Welcome to our weekly online series on parenting advice with local expert Dr. Deborah Wood.

Dear Dr. Debbie,

Help!  My daughter is driving me nuts.  She has graduation this weekend, and we’ve been planning a celebration for months.  Unfortunately, before my wallflower got up the courage to invite friends, other parties were being planned, and now only a few are coming to ours.  Meanwhile relatives and family friends are eager to congratulate her and share our pride over her accomplishments.  She starts college in the fall.  She says this party is more about me than her.

Other issues.  I won’t let her get a drivers’ license until she can afford insurance.  No summer job lined up as of yet.  She’s invited to go to Ocean City with some friends, which turns out not to be costing her anything since they’ve covered the cost of the room.  So we’re letting her go – with some trepidation of course.

As I try to focus on cleaning the house and planning the food, she gives me the cold shoulder or snaps at me.  Tensions have been so high around here I actually told her she was acting like the “B-word.”

What gives?


Dear What Gives,

Sounds normal.  The baby bird is leaving the nest. How about you let her party hop with her friends after all the friends and relatives you are sharing this joyful moment with have had a good chance to congratulate her and bestow all their advice for her future.  Actually this party is probably more about you – and you deserve it – for bringing her successfully to this point in her life.

Over the summer, and over her first semester away, you and she will begin to find a new way to relate to one another.  And she will find out how to solve problems with other resources than her parents.

The tension now helps you both leave behind your old roles in preparation for the new.

Congratulations to you both.


Dr. Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis.  She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum.  Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at www.drdebbiewood.com

Do you have a parenting question for Dr. Debbie? Email us! editor@chesapeakefamily.com

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