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Advice for graduates and their parents

Advice for graduates and their parents Advice for graduates and their parents

Look both ways before crossing a street.

Most of us were taught that lesson at an early age. When you come to an intersection, you pause. You look to your left. You look to your right. Then you make a quick glance to your left again before you move forward.

The intent of this exercise is to be aware of what is coming at you so you aren’t caught unaware when you step out into traffic.

As life lessons go, this one has a lot going for it. Not only is there the practicality of avoiding being run over, there is also the lesson that at every intersection in life there are choices and there are potential dangers if you aren’t on the lookout for them.

Every year about this time, well-meaning grownups feel compelled to share unsolicited advice with young people about their futures, such as the paragraphs above where a preschool lesson is used to hammer home a basic concept that you should look before you leap.

The advice runs the gamut from offering corny quotes about “plastic” from decades-old movies to talking about how hard work and perseverance pays off in the end. Young people who are facing monumental life changes absorb this advice — or at the very least tolerate listening to it with a fixed smile and eyes glazed over in the hope of scoring a decent graduation present.

As parents, grandparents and other well-meaning adults, we read the room and know that our advice and suggestions are unlikely to penetrate the hazy fog of change that is billowing around the newly-minted graduate.

It doesn’t stop us though, and who knows, some small bit will seep in and like a grass seed in broken pavement take root and grow.

Being a parent at graduation is tough. Children and young people are the repository of the hopes and dreams of the generations that have come before them. This is at the same time a wonderful gift and a terrible burden.

For the past nearly two decades, as parents, you have worked to provide for your children and teach them lessons and be there for them in their times of need. You have rocked them and held them tight when they have been sick and feverish. You have helped dry their tears and patch them up when they have come with skinned knees or a broken heart.

You have been there to guide and protect them. While tempting to think that your job is over, it is not. However, it has changed. Just like it changed during the transitions from preschooler to elementary school and on through each year and milestone since.

The child you raised will make their own choices. Some will be good ones. Some will be bad. Others will be really bad. Your job, as it ever was, is to be there to help pick them up, dust them off and send them back out to try again with the gentle admonishment to be sure to always look both ways when crossing a street.