Celebrating Grads

If you haven’t read this newsletter about “ending well,” check it out here. Today, I’m building on that message as we celebrate the graduates of 2024. If you’ve worked with kids and families as long as I have, you know that they wind their way into your heart. The trust you build with families and the relationships you earn with children are treasures, and not to be taken lightly. 

I have worked with children and families between weeks, months, and years. You can imagine, if a child or family has seen me for years, it’s likely because of medical complexity, trauma, recurrent mental health problems, neurodivergence, or instability in their systems of support. Sometimes, it’s simply been months and years because parents begin to rely on me as a thought partner, model, and space-holder for the tumultuous years of parenting. 

Now that I’ve been practicing for almost 25 years, children I worked with as toddlers or young children are graduating from high school, celebrating college degrees, and building their own lives. Sometimes, when I’m fortunate, I get messages after they’ve moved on. Little updates about their lives, school, relationships, new homes, a growing family, or just checking in with a question. Even though I’ve closed my private practice, the children and families that I’ve worked with know they can always reach out for resources or a quick check-in. The therapeutic relationship is special and unique. It’s a delicate balance of support, education, hard work, and relationship building. 

Every spring, I delight in seeing graduation announcements and life plans for children that I’ve worked with; and this year is no different. This spring, I received 4 graduation announcements for young people’s lives I’ve touched. Included are pictures of young adults, thank you notes, and sweet messages of relief, celebration, and gratitude from parents.

I simply want to take a moment and acknowledge something powerful. If you have the honor of working with children and families, and they take a moment to reach out and celebrate their child WITH YOU, don’t miss that opportunity. Write the card, show up, send a gift – whatever feels most authentic to you as a professional! As I briefly stopped by one graduate’s open house, her parent looked at me and said, “We did it.” I reframed, “You both did it, I just got to help.” 

I constantly remind myself – while I’ve worked with thousands of children, these families may have had just ONE experience with a psychologist. Please, let it be positive, grounding, validating, supportive, and life-giving. Please let families know they’re doing their best, parenting is hard and that we ALL make mistakes. Celebrate them! Revel in them! 

Here’s to you graduates of 2024! And to your circle of people who’ve helped you get there. Thank you for letting me be part of your journey.