Gra­dua­ting to life’s next le­vel in­cludes im­por­tant les­sons

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

A new crop of young adults are or will gra­duate from high school this month. And rea­dy or not, they’ll be thrust in­to a new chap­ter that could apt­ly be tit­led: Star­ting life as an adult.

Gra­dua­tion is an im­por­tant mi­les­tone. And though the si­gni­fi­cance of com­ple­ting high school is not as sym­bo­lic as it once was since ma­king your way in the world ar­med on­ly with a high school lea­ving cer­ti­fi­cate is ve­ry dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­sible, it’s still seen as the tran­si­tion from child­hood to adul­thood. The pas­sing of the ba­ton. Of let­ting these young adults make their own de­ci­sions.

And, ho­pe­ful­ly, lear­ning to live with the conse­quences. Much has been said of this ge­ne­ra­tion. The so-cal­led “en­tit­led” kids rai­sed by a pla­toon of he­li­cop­ter pa­rents who have led their chil­dren to be­lieve they are spe­cial. That they can do any­thing. That the sky’s the li­mit and the rules on­ly ap­ply to their chil­dren when conve­nient. And when they’re not, watch out for mom and dad who will swoop in at a mo­ment’s no­tice and take anyone to task for da­ring to paint their child with the broad brush stroke of rea­li­ty and with conse­quences.

The pro­blem with this style of pa­ren­ting is that the rest of the world doesn’t see your dar­ling as dar­ling at all. They see an ill-man­ne­red, de­man­ding, en­tit­led young per­son who’s been taught to think on­ly of him­self or her­self. Who ex­pects to be han­ded eve­ry­thing.

And who has no co­ping skills when the ine­vi­table bumps in the road come along.

And that’s sad be­cause it means these kids are thrust in­to a world wi­thout the tools nee­ded to suc­ceed.

Life’s les­sons

As a pa­rent I be­lieve that my job is to al­so be a tea­cher and to pre­pare my kids for the next stage in life, no mat­ter what stage they are in.

When my chil­dren were ba­bies I nee­ded to pre­pare them for the todd­ler stage that in­clu­ded lear­ning to walk, talk and feed them­selves.

Be­fore sen­ding them to ele­men­ta­ry school, I nee­ded to teach them to share, to wait their turn, to res­pect their tea­chers and adults, to not in­ter­rupt, and so on.

In the same vein, those get­ting rea­dy to leave high school will ho­pe­ful­ly have lear­ned that the best tools to have in their adult tool boxes will be the abi­li­ty to work hard even when so­me­thing is dif­fi­cult, to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­ti­ve­ly, to speak up when so­me­thing is wrong but to not feel vic­ti­mi­zed when re­cei­ving a bad grade when they didn’t do the work, or lost a job when they re­pea­ted­ly cal­led in sick, sho­wed up late, or didn’t per­form well.

They should ab­so­lu­te­ly know that life is not al­ways fair. That eve­ryone won’t al­ways win, and that the har­der wor­king, bet­ter qua­li­fied and more or­ga­ni­zed per­son will usual­ly triumph.

A well pre­pa­red gra­duate should un­ders­tand the ba­sics of fi­nance and know how to live by a ru­di­men­ta­ry bud­get. Teens who have part time jobs, who pay their own cel­lu­lar phone bills and buy their own clothes, will un­ders­tand those concepts. Ma­ny though, who may work but are al­lo­wed to spend their mo­ney ha­ving fun while mom and dad fi­nance their “real life,” will be clue­less.

And even more, sur­pri­sin­gly, don’t have jobs at all. They’re al­lo­wed to live lives of staying up late, slee­ping in, “han­ging out,” and end­less rounds of com­pu­ter-TV-so­cial-me­dia surfing.

What stage of life is that pre­pa­ring them for, I won­der?

When it comes to fi­nance, we need to arm our grads with the un­ders­tan­ding that shop­ping and consump­tion are not the paths to hap­pi­ness, but ra­ther to a life of debt and stress.

A well pre­pa­red young adult should al­so know how to cook a ba­sic meal or two, and how to do laun­dry. If they own a car, or have ac­cess to the fa­mi­ly car, they should know how to check the tire pres­sure and what the pro­per tire pres­sure is.

They should be able to check the car’s oil le­vel and its wind­shield wa­sher fluid le­vel (that one’s pret­ty im­por­tant once the snow and slush start to fly.) They should know the cost of gas, and cer­tain­ly be re­pla­cing it if they use the fa­mi­ly car.

In short, a well pre­pa­red grad should un­ders­tand the ba­sic cost of li­ving and how much it costs for them to exist in the world so they are ar­med and rea­dy to exist in­de­pen­dent­ly one day.

Too ma­ny gra­dua­ting teens who qui­ck­ly be­come adults, don’t have the first clue.

Sad­ly, too ma­ny be­come young 20-so­me­things, who turn in­to not-as-young 25and-up-so­me­things who spend their days playing vi­deo games in mom and dad’s ba­se­ment, wor­king part-time jobs at fast food chains and coun­ting on mom to cook and clean for them.

Our job as pa­rents is to pre­pare our kids for the next phase in life. To not do that is to fail our kids and to send them out in­to a world that won’t love or pro­tect them like we do. It’s to send them out ill equip­ped and wi­thout the tools they’ll ab­so­lu­te­ly need to suc­ceed.

So be­fore buying that gra­dua­tion card, make sure your grad has lear­ned all the les­sons they’ll need in or­der to gra­duate to the next le­vel in life. It’s the best gift you can give them.

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