A few weeks ago, I went with my oldest son to his freshman orientation at a local university. We started out the day in two separate check-in lines—one for parents, the other for students. Then we sat in a large auditorium together, getting some basic information for two hours. After that, my son split off into a group, and I didn’t see him again until the end of the day.

As I went through the day, I was able to get the answers to some basic questions I needed—primarily financial. I got a free t-shirt. Lots of information. Some random giveaway items. But there was something that grew increasingly obvious to me—this wasn’t about me.

I didn’t need to talk to the various academic representatives—I’m not going to school there. My son is. I’m not planning his classes, he is.

I didn’t need to investigate all the potential academic helps. If my son needs help, it’s there for him to utilize . . . or not.

This is his thing to sort out. Not mine. And that is the new theme for my wife and me. We’re moving from parent to coach.

High school graduation wasn’t the finish line. It was a shift in relationship. And this might be one of the most difficult transitions.

I’m now becoming a coach. A sideline fan. Many choices and decisions will be ultimately up to him.

I’m not always going to like the decisions.
I’m going to want to protect him. Shelter him.
But I can’t always protect him.
I can help him.
Advise him when asked, or figure out a way to offer advice in a non-invasive way.
But this is part of the process of raising an adult.

I have friends who have adult children. And while they enjoy their freedom from the busyness and chaos of raising kids, they’ve had to come to a point of surrender that they are no longer setting the course.

I’m probably not going to do this well. There are going to be times when I do too much for him. And other times when I probably should step in more.

But here we go.
Welcome to the next phase.
Let’s stumble our way through it.

This post originally appeared here, and is used with permission.