Launch

The opportunity to launch your child into the adult world is never as clear as it is on that first day of college. There is often a sigh of relief (that they made it!), hope for their future (that they’ll make it!), with a little knot in your stomach called fear (that they won’t make it!).

For some, there is a sense of loss as they leave the “nest”, maybe forever. For others, the launch to young adulthood and greater independence is marked by a ministry year, or attending college locally, moving into the workforce or training for a skilled trade. Whatever the “launch” looks like, it is a significant milestone in life. It marks the end of high school and a way of life that has been in place for years, and marks the beginning of a new level of independence and adulthood.

So, how do you send your young adult into adulthood without kicking them out or them kicking and screaming on the way out?! Better said, how do you mark this milestone in a way that honors God, your child, your values and celebrates this monumental moment with him or her? How do you support and encourage your child in their faith and launch them with all the tools and resources you can to live as disciples of Christ in a spiritually challenging world?

We want to help make the launch with your child a meaningful milestone. You may have ideas of your own that you have found helpful. But if you are stuck, unsure what to say or do, here are some guidelines and options to consider.

· Plan Something
Be intentional- You don’t have to plan a big event, but marking a milestone with meaning doesn’t just happen.

Pray about it-What does God want you to do? How do you want it to be?

Talk about it with your spouse, friend, or others who have launched their children well.

Plan an event
of some sort- this could be a special meal, an evening time spent together, an overnight, or a weekend.


· Gather People
Ask your son or daughter who in their life they look up to and feel loved or cared for? Whose voice(s) will they listen to better? Who has been a spiritual leader for them? Do they have any mentors or adults they respect?

Consider how many people you would like to have for the event. It could be just your immediate family, or extended family, some close friends, or a larger group.

Tell them where and what you want to accomplish- ask them to be a part of marking this milestone in your child’s life through words, prayer, time together, and maybe a meal.

Give them opportunity to clear their schedules and plan for it.


· Talk About it With Anticipation
Tell your son or daughter that something is going to happen- they should plan for an event- whether it is a breakfast, an evening, a weekend, with your family alone or others. 

Give them opportunity to clear their calendar – as well as others who may be a part of the event.

Talk about the event with anticipation and excitement- let your son or daughter know that this is special- this is for them- this is a milestone in life that you want them to remember forever.


· Create an Environment
Find an environment that is unique or special - or make the environment feel unique and special in some way.

It could be a new place, someone’s house, a retreat center, a cabin away, a day in the park, maybe a room at church or a banquet hall.

It can be your back yard -if it’s decorated maybe with lights, a banner hanging, or some decorations that create an ambience – an environment that makes it feel different than the same old backyard.


· Focus on God
Pray for the event- ahead of time and during it- ask others to pray as well.

Pray for your child- a nice way to end the event may be in prayer- it could be a group prayer, or you praying for your child.

Read Scripture that encourages and reminds your child that they are loved, and reminds them of the values and priorities that align us with our faith.


· Speak Words
Give your child your blessing- it doesn’t matter how, nearly as much that you do it-your goal is to communicate approval, acceptance, and pride in who they have become.

Prepare words to say- Let your child know that it is their time to simply listen to what parents, family, and those who love them to say some things.

Put words in writing- so your child can have something to take with them.

Write something to your son or daughter- it doesn’t have to be long or perfect- it doesn’t matter how it is said- it matters that you say it.

Some ideas are:
“The Top 10 Things I Want My Child to Remember”
“The Top 10 Things I Love About My Son/Daughter”
“Reasons I am Proud of My Son/Daughter”
“5 Things My Child Should Know”
“5 Things God Has Taught Me”
“What to do When Life Gets Hard”
“How to Grow as a Disciple”

Ask others to speak wisdom , encouragement and blessing into your child as well- maybe ask others to make a list (see above).


· Make It Personal
Don’t choose an environment or ambience that isn’t your child’s preference- if he or she is an outdoors person, consider a park or cabin or camp of some sort- if your child is a sports nut, consider a time before attending a big game or watching it together- if she’s passionate about cooking, consider a table in a private room at a special restaurant- if your child has always enjoyed the spotlight, then put him or her on stool and a stage- as if it is a game show or talk show

Relax- have fun- meaningful moments don’t have to be somber- play music- play games- dance- cheer- laugh- clap- celebrate the moment!

Hug your child… few things communicate love, acceptance, and support more than a meaning hug from a parent.


· Make it Meaningful
Consider a gift that marks the moment for your child - something that won’t be used up in a month or experienced and then gone- some options are
a ring or necklace
a book
a new Bible
a bracelet inscribed on the inside
a trophy
a dish with inscription
a mug that communicates meaning
a watch
a pen
a briefcase, backpack, messenger bag
a piece of luggage to encourage them to visit once in a while!

· Make it Practical
Provide them resources to learn, grow, and turn to when they need.
Give them a book that you found meaningful- inscribe on the inside cover.
Provide them websites that may be helpful.
Give them a list of campus resources for ministry and support.


· Be Repetitive

Remind your child regularly that you are proud of him or her and love them.
Encourage your child to read the writings from the event again and again.

Spend time asking your child what they are doing, thinking, planning.
Talk about the event periodically- asking your child what they remember or what stood out to them.


There are many ways to celebrate this milestone. It not the way you do it that matters as much as doing it. These are just some ideas. Use some of them or create something. Borrow some ides, but make them God-honoring, personal and from your heart.

Resources:

· Campus Ministries- Most colleges have a campus ministry department as well as outside ministry groups that have a presence on many college campuses. Click on the ministry name below for more information.
YoungLife College 
Campus Crusade for Christ 
Fellowship of Christian Athletes 
InterVarsity 
The Navigators 

· Resources for the College Student
Cru on Campus 

· Articles for Parents
Keys-For-Success
Four Reasons You Should Invest in College-age Christians
The Changing Role of Parents during the College Years
Parenting-Your-College-Freshman
The Long Good-bye:  Five Lessons for Parents of College-bound Children
What to Expect at College
Why are Teens Leaving the Faith?
Tips for the Praying Parent


· Books for Parents Parenting Adult Children
Boundaries: When Teens Say Yes