Graduating high school. Is it the day that all parents look forward to, proud of their accomplishment in getting their child to this point in life? Or the day that parents dread? After all, once your child graduates high school, they are empowered with enormous freedoms of choice. They often move out of the home and some far away to colleges. Other teens take that huge leap into the great big world of fending for themselves, finding their first ‘real’ job, and looking for places of their own to live. No matter what plans your child has post high school, graduation marks a new era in their life and a new chapter in your own parenting book.
Perhaps the most normal feeling of most parents when their child graduates high school is that they just don’t feel they are ready. They still look and feel so childlike. Most kids are around the age of 18, which makes them barely an adult and definitely not a child. Suddenly, their choices and the consequences for them are no longer seen as simply testing wild oats or made out of immaturity and parents can no longer protect them from everything. You have watched your child grow from a baby to the person that they are now and although you knew all along they were getting bigger, they never stopped being your child. The feeling is not unlike the one your own parents have for you. And there is a good chance that even you have noticed, when you with your mom or dad, you still feel like a child no matter how old you are.
For your child, graduating high school can be frightening as hell. Suddenly, everyone is asking them what their plans are now. What do they want to study in college? Where do they want to live? How will they make money? The questions are endless and even though graduation coaches, teachers, and parents just like you have tried to prepare them for a future, the reality is that they are just greenhorns in life. They have no idea. If they do have an idea, it is subject to change at any moment. Even so, the best-laid plans in life don’t always work out. You hope as a mom or dad that it will not be like that for your child. But in some deep part of yourself, you know that no matter what – your child’s life will be just like everyone else’s. Full of turns and twists. Full of disappointments and tribulations. Full of changed minds and ideas that rise and set as quickly as the sun. Trying to hard to protect them from that, does not allow them to build living experience and gives them no reason to trust their own purpose in life, whatever that may!
Sure, you think you know the path to success for your child. You are pretty sure that you can guide them down the right road to securing a phenomenal future, if only they would listen to you. Yet at some point, when your child graduates high school you have to allow them to do it on their own. Instead of pointing out the flaws in their plans and dreams, allow them to develop a taste for adversity. Allow them to deal with disappointment and acquire perseverance in life. This will make them more flexible in life and will also help them to own their own accomplishments and failures as they occur. No child of this age should still be relying on parents for everything. And if you have made your child self reliant, the time has come to cut the cord. If you don’t, your child is in for a disastrous life that will never truly be their own.
Another novel idea is to allow your child to live a little before chauffeuring them to your alma mater. Sure, you have dreams and you fancy them walking down the same hallways that you walked down. But what if, someone had give you a line and told you to go and travel a bit. There is a good chance that you may have experienced things in life that you now wish you had. In other words, the life your child has had to this point has been full of teachers and parents breathing down their neck and directing them how to go in life. They have been taught to set their own passions and desires aside for a life that is more responsible and valuable according to some invisible standards. But what about living? There is nothing wrong with a child graduating high school who wants to travel, who wants to see the world to figure out what they want to do in life. There is nothing wrong with them joining some foreign mission so they can take an awesome adventure someplace they may have never otherwise been able to see. Opportunities like this aren’t available once you become an adult, have the spouse, the house payment or children. So why not allow them to capitalize on their freedoms for a while?
Children are different and each has their own plan after high school. Most of the time it is a culmination of what their parents want and what they feel is right. However, they are still so young. And yet, they are old enough to take care of themselves in many ways. At this point in their life, there isn’t necessarily one way to go to ensure a life well lived and happiness. As a parent of a child who just graduated high school, you should sit back and think of your own life. Realize the things that you missed out on and perhaps your own passed over potential in order to please people outside of yourself. Don’t allow this to happen for your child. Instead, encourage them to keep their heart above their head for just a little while longer and gain some living experience that will help them to evolve into full-fledged adults who live according to their own rules. Certainly, you should give warning and advice as it is necessary – but mostly you should encourage and empower your child graduating high school to fly. Alone!