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Challenge: Life Changes

For the Class of 2020 (and their parents)

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Lack of closure can be haunting. Unsettling, to say the least. All those loose ends? You feel as if you were left hanging in this game of life.

Countless people are feeling that way, but I feel sorry for one group in particular: high school seniors. They won’t get back the chance to enjoy their last days before graduation with their friends. Student athletes won’t get to compete in their final games. Friends who were looking forward to just enjoying these final weeks of school are using video calls or TikTok duets to hang out virtually. There won’t be senior proms, “promposals,” or dress shopping. And even if we can’t know for sure at this point, graduation ceremonies will likely be cancelled across the board.

These rituals or milestones might seem insignificant, but they are so symbolic of the life we knew. Everything changed so quickly, so drastically, that many teens are angry, frustrated, upset or just feel lost. Yes, we can still create meaningful celebrations and joyful moments at home, but it can be hard to adjust to this social distancing reality.

At least the lucky ones already knew what their next steps would be. My son was fortunate enough to get accepted into his top college choice.

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However, many of his friends are struggling to choose where to go and what to do since they planned on visiting schools during spring break.

Parents are also dealing with the uncertainty. Decisions might change now that our financial futures are unclear. Or we might want our kids to stay closer to home. What's even harder is staying firm in the need for physical distance at a time in which teens want to be with their friends instead of their family.

A few words for the class of 2020:

There’s a viral challenge inviting parents to shower their high school seniors with extra love. It got to me. Especially when my son told me he couldn't believe he had his last day of school without knowing that he wouldn't get to go back to see his peers, his friends, and his teachers.

Here’s my love letter to the class of 2020:

You were the first generation to grow up in the post-9/11 world, so you should know that your births, first smiles and shaky steps brought hope and joy in the midst of darkness and sadness. I know that you will figure out how to continue to bear those gifts in this world.

Your school curriculums have changed over the years to the point that you had to find ways to complete your homework without our help because we simply didn’t understand the new methods. This resourcefulness will come in handy to the quickly changing world we are facing.

You have grown up with social media, with all the good and the bad that it entails. Now you can use it to your advantage to find emotional connection despite the physical distance.

Although your schools didn’t feel safe anymore after the horrendous tragedies you have witnessed, you continued to show up to class and do your best. May our failure to protect you inspire you to improve our laws and advocate for others.

Yes, it sucks that you are spending the last days of this stage of your lives in total uncertainty, without doing what you usually do. Without hanging out with friends. Yet your friendships are stronger than physical distance and when things stabilize, you can pick up where you left off.

The only constant in life is change. You are masters at adapting and once again you will rise to the challenge.

These strange times might have robbed you of certain moments you had been planning for, but don’t allow them to steal your dreams and hope. Because hope will always get you through life.

Now try to stay as healthy as possible. We love you so much, Class of 2020!

Jeannette Kaplun is a parenting author, blogger, and TV host. She's the mom of two teens and lives in Miami, Florida. Find her on Instagram @jeannettekaplun and check out her blog hispanaglobal.net.

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Dear high school senior: You were robbed. It's unfair. You'll get through this

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