Tag Archives: Careers

Graduation Day

Today my kid graduates from secondary school.  There are many parents on my timeline who are acknowledging similar milestones for their kids.  To all of these young people I say Congratulations!

So how does it feel?

The important milestones in life are not celebrate alone.  Birth, entry and graduation from school, weddings, funerals – these are moments which affect families and communities as a whole.  At the centre of these events are individuals who are experiencing changes.  A child anxiously starting kindergarten, a teen wearing cap and gown as they say ‘good bye’ to the routines of high school, a spouse tearfully saying ‘good bye’ to their partner.  Simultaneously, there are those who are directly impacted by the ways life has changed for someone we hold dear.  In fact, a parent may remember far more vividly than the child that first day of kindergarten.  Whether we cried or didn’t, the fact remains, we all had feelings about that moment and these feelings matter.

Graduation Day

To watch our children step up to the platform and receive their diploma signals a significant shift in the lives of the family.  While the diploma might indicate that the child has achieved what is necessary to complete an education program, it also symbolises an expectation that the child has reached a new level of maturity.  When teenagers graduate from high school, the world assumes that they are prepared to make life-decisions.  With that moment, they are expected to decide what happens next.

What are the options?

Secondary school programming begins to explore the options with teenagers beginning in grade 10.  For some this is experienced with anxiety as they assume that failing to make the ‘right’ choice could somehow lead to a disastrous life.  In reality, for decades we have come to recognise that we don’t have to choose a single path: that we can walk a long and winding road, shifting and changing, remaking ourselves at each turn and still live a life we love.

What do you want to be right now?

For years, when asked what I wanted my child to be, I have said ‘happy’.  I believe that the best job in the world is the one that you love and provides you, at a minimum, with sufficient resources to meet your basic needs.  This is something that may change over the course of a lifetime and I would say that is OK.  Of course, this is my opinion.  I would love to hear others.

What do you think?

What are your priorities for your children?  What role do you think parents should play in helping teenagers make decisions after high school graduation?  How will you be there for your child as they navigate through the next stage of their life?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Game of Life

Updating the classic board game

On Sunday, Apr. 29th we gathered beginning at 5pm to make pizzas.  With laughter and creativity the work began.  A glimpse of the fun can be seen in a video found here.  As people finished their creations, we played ‘human bingo’.  Each person received the same card and was encouraged to find people to sign, one square each, those relating to them.  Boxes included: “Has at least one sibling”; “Has seen all the Harry Potter movies”; “Still has Easter chocolate”; and “Has watched the Windsor-Detroit fireworks”.

As pizzas were ready, we sat and ate.  During this time, individuals were encouraged to draw from the cards scattered on the table and share based on the prompt.  As we result we were told about people who had an impact on our lives; how we played as a child; when we were proud and more.  There seemed to be a natural flow of conversation with sharing and laughter abounding.

Breaking into groups

The topic on the night was the “Game of Life” and provided a chance to reflect on our life’s journeys.  The tweens group talked about what they wanted to be when they grow up and one of the leaders shared how she was preparing to go back to school creating a sense that our paths are not so rigid that they cannot be changed.  The teenagers and adults were each given a chance to explore the board game itself.

The message of the game

Those familiar with the Game of Life know that the first thing participants must do is to decide whether to enter into the workforce or go to college.  Those who choose the former, pick a job right away.  Those who choose the latter go into debt and pick a job when the ‘graduate’.  That job stays with the players throughout the game with only one opportunity to intentionally make a change and few chances that a change is made unintentionally.

Shortly thereafter, players must be married, at which point there are multiple spots in which babies enter the picture.  Then players must buy a house which is upgraded later in the game. Eventually players retire and the game ends.

Space for conversation

This game is designed based on a linear progression through life.  While there are those whose lives mimic this progression, for many, particularly beginning with Generation X, the journey through life is much more twisted.  Not all people are able to get jobs right out of school.  Generation X is expected to change careers, on average, 4 times in their lives.  Some will intentionally make changes.  Some will do so unintentionally because they have lost a job.

Relationships are likewise far more complicated.  Since this game was created, the average age for marriage has increased significantly and the number of children has likewise decreased.  In fact, we have learned that it is entirely possible to have fulfilling lives without marriage and/or children.  Life has changed.  The conversation in the parents’ and teenagers’ groups reflected this understanding.  It is perhaps poignant to note that some of the teenagers ended the game in debt – something that is becoming increasingly common.

What can families do?

Even if parents’ experience fits with the Game of Life, we know others for whom their life journeys are far more complex.  As our children grow older and seek to find their way, it is important for us to draw from our knowledge and experience to let them know no path is unchangeable.  Twists and turns in life, while they can be difficult, can also lead to wonderful things.

As with everything, keeping the lines of communication open remains important.  We can support our children through the challenges and changes of life drawing from our own experiences of the challenges and changes of life.

When all else fails, do as we did at the end of the night, bang a drum to release the anxiety and stress of life and engage in laughter.  Then, take the time to hold what we need in reflection and prayer.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/


Journeying through life

When they grow up…

What do you want your children to be when they grow up?  Sometimes adults pose this question amongst each other.  The answers provide insights into our priorities, hopes and dreams for our children.  There are some who hope their children will follow in their footsteps.  Some hope they will take on prestigious careers that will give them fame and fortune.  Personally, my hope has always been that my kid will simply be happy.

Career assessments

Today, students are given multiple opportunities throughout their time in school to take aptitude tests that will then provide insights into the kinds of work to which the child is best suited.  The expectation, of course, is that these are useful tools in helping parents and children decide on the kinds of classes they will take in secondary school and the kinds of activities best suited for them.  In Ontario, this process culminates in a “Careers” course taken in grade 10 which is designed to help students explore post-secondary options and the programming required to achieve these.

How realistic is this process?

Unpacking this process, it becomes possible to recognise an expected linear progression from the results of the aptitude tests to the acquisition of skills to the attainment of an appropriate job.  There was a time when this progression was the reality for most.  By the time Generation X (i.e., those born between 1965 and 1981), entered the workforce this process began to shift to the point that it is now expected that long term employment with one company (or even in one industry) is a thing of the past.  Furthermore, thanks largely to technology, it is expected that a majority of children today will actually end up in jobs that don’t even exist yet.

What can parents do?

Parents can begin by reflecting on our own journeys through life.  How often did our paths change?  Why did we make those changes?  What were the consequences of such changes?  By drawing from our own experiences we can help young people feel comfortable about uncertainty.  Regardless of where our children are in the process, we show through our experiences that no single choice will permanently establish our future.  To the extent that we recognise the shifting landscape in which we have come to live, we can help our children be comfortable with the changes and shifts that they will face on their life’s journeys.

What is important is that we keep the lines of communication open, remain willing to learn and patient as we walk with our children through the challenges and changes of living in this millennia.  They don’t have to walk this path alone and neither do we.  On Apr. 29th beginning at 5pm at Essex United we will have our first Thrive! Dinner, an opportunity to gather for food, fellowship and programming that will explore the ways we as parents, teenagers, tweens and children can navigate through the changing landscape of today.  All are welcome to come to the table to be nourished and nourish one another.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/