It appears growing pains are not just for reserved for youth. We all go through stages that test our patience, understanding, and skill. Individuals who fare best are those with a growth mindset open to changing perspectives and strategies based on the situation at hand. I need to remind myself of this fact continuously. For it is just when I think I have a handle on this parenting thing, at least one of my children forces me through another painful growth spurt.

Epic failure. That is how my second-born child characterized his first semester at college. Yes. As we speak, he is on his way home, having withdrawn from college on Friday afternoon. After calls with his advisor and the Dean of Students, Micah chose to completely drop this semester rather than try to salvage it. This step will allow him to have a fresh start when he returns, keeping his scholarship intact. His next struggle was trying to decide if he should stay at home in the spring or return to school in January. After several lengthy discussions, he concluded, “I want to stay at college. I just don’t know if I am ready or able to do what is expected of me.” And with that small realization, a glimmer of hope appeared.

Although I am saddened by how things have transpired, I am encouraged by Micah’s honesty and self-awareness. I know he feels badly that he has let himself, and us, down. I also know he will get through this if he is able to accept the additional support that will be afforded by the college upon his return. And if he isn’t ready or able, we will deal with that when the time comes. The bigger question is how will this parent will respond to the events that have unfolded.

My homework over the holiday break? Discuss; don’t lecture. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Respond, rather than react…in a manner that allows for a healthy sense of guilt, but does not encourage shame. Support, but do not enable. Focus on the big picture and know this series of unfortunate events will soon pass.