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?

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