It’s Graduation Time!!
Parents looked on with pride as their teens in their graduation gowns walked down the aisle in church last Sunday. This service was to honor the students and bless them as they graduate from high school and make their way into the world. They all looked so smart and beautiful. Each graduate held such great promise in their eyes. I know their families felt extremely proud.
Graduation is a monumental milestone for teens. They are finally setting out to make a great future for themselves; at least we hope they are. There is so much to prepare for including graduation parties, looking for jobs for those who want to join the work force or preparing to move to college. There are so many things to do and though it may appear that there is a lot of time before college, the time to say goodbye to your teens will be here before you know it. Below are a few things to consider in this hectic time.
1. Preparing for Graduation
When my twins graduated from high school, I was totally unprepared. We intended to have a small get together for them and much to my surprise all the venues we had in mind had previously been booked by other parents who were much more prepared than we were. Luckily we were able to secure a room in a Chinese restaurant which worked well. You can save yourself a lot of anxiety and panic by being prepared well ahead of time. Talk to caterers and be sure you understand everything in the contract and that it all meets your budget. I know we are really proud of our kids when they graduate from high school but don’t break the bank in your celebration.
2. Pay attention to finances
Yes, this was a lesson for me on our first college experience. You know the colleges will let you know upfront what your tuition and boarding will cost. However be aware of the “little things” which can ultimately add up to a lot of money. Remember you have to pay for books, toiletries, bedding, clothes and the list goes on. Be sure you talk to your child before ordering the ready-made packs which a lot of colleges offer. I loved it for convenience but not all teens like this pack and sometimes you end up buying separate items in addition. On the other hand, your teen may not need everything in the pack so be realistic about whether to order it or not. Also don’t rush out and buy all new clothes for your teen. At least not just yet. Remember their weight will fluctuate quite a bit in the first year. You may have to buy a whole new wardrobe if you are too hasty about this. Also, some may not know exactly how to do their laundry so give them a chance to ruin their old clothes before you buy them new ones. Also remember to set money aside for an allowance, at least initially. It’s a good idea for them to settle into school in the first year and get the hang of it before they start looking for jobs.
3. For those not going off to college
College is not for everyone. It is great as a parent to recognize this fact and direct your child to a trade or job that will be just as fulfilling and create a great future for them. My challenge is with the teen who decides not to go to college and stays home to “discover themselves.” I met a sweet lady who told me her sons wanted to discover themselves and she told them “the only discovery you’ll be making will be in college or out working. There will be no discovery sitting on a couch in my house.” Now that is what I call wisdom. Too many teens are allowed to take the easy way out and sit at home playing video games and watching TV whilst their parents work to support them. We do our teens a great disservice when we condone this behavior. We always have to encourage them to function at their highest potential rather than allowing them to squelch their creativity in our homes.
I salute the young men and women who choose to go into service for their country in the Marines, Navy or Air force. It takes a lot of courage on the teen’s part and also for the parents to make this decision. Attending community college is another choice and I know some teens actually do better when they attend community college first. The savings are enormous and for some it helps them mature before they actually leave home.
4. Leave the drama behind
As graduation time approaches and all the preparation gets underway, sometimes tempers get frayed as everyone decides what they want. As much as you can, leave the drama behind. This is a special time for your teen and for the whole family. Make it a memorable one. Learn to give a little even if things are not being done exactly as you saw it eighteen years ago when you first held that bundle of joy in your arms. Trust me in a few years, no one will remember the color scheme at the graduation party or how many balloons you had. They will remember the fun, the family togetherness and the joy and laughter. As one of my good friends always says, “It’s all about the experience and making memories” so take it easy, relax and enjoy the celebration.
It is not easy for parents to guide their children through school to its completion. There will be a lot of tears and laughter as you look back and remember the accomplishments as well as some of the less than honorable moments when our teens got into trouble. Each experience has made them who they are. Those experiences will serve them well as they make it into the world.
Congratulations to the class of 2016! And congratulations to their parents as well.