College Graduation: The End of Mom-Daughter Talks?

My oldest daughter graduates from college tomorrow with double majors, a minor, and accolades galore. Her father and I are extremely proud of her commitment, drive, and her high standard of excellence.

After the ceremony, we’ll host a congratulatory BBQ for family and friends, and the rest of our daughter’s life will begin. At home. In her old room, shared with one of her sisters. This wasn’t in the plans but then, when we made the plans years ago, we didn’t realize that she would be so busy during her senior year of college that not a moment was left to explore graduate schools. We suggested that she give herself a year to live at home, work, and choose a graduate program.

We will have two 17-year-old daughters and a 22-year-old daughter living under our roof, which begs the question of what the new rules will be.  And what kinds of conversations are ahead of us.

We’ll keep a rule I learned from my parents, which was, “You don’t have the right to make us worry about you unnecessarily.” That translates to the rule that anyone who is going to be out later than expected, calls home to let someone know.

We also have rules prohibiting illegal activities, unapproved parties, and people in the house who haven’t been introduced to us (even with a simple, “Dad, this is my friend Pam. Pam, this is my dad.” And we have a policy against making others in the house uncomfortable; ergo, no couples make out passionately while watching TV with family members in the room. And we certainly don’t want to walk in on more involved sexual behavior, no matter whether it involves our oldest or younger daughters.

As for conversations, I hope college graduation isn’t the end of the mom-daughter talks I cherish so much.  We’ve always conversed easily about even the most sensitive topics, while I had to use every trick in my bag ‘o tricks to get information into her sisters. Because of the ease with which she and I converse, we need to be mindful of maintaining boundaries. It was easy to maintain those boundaries when we were texting, phoning, or emailing during the college years; we will have to work harder at it when she lives at home again because there is a limit to what I want or need to know about her private life, just as she doesn’t want or need to know about mine.

The next year will be a challenge for all of us, but I look forward to it and will share with you what I learn along the way.