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If you have a son or daughter who is graduating in 2020, then you know the uncertainties they are facing.
There are a million questions about graduation, prom, saying goodbye to friends and teachers, entering or exiting college, and the entire general job situation.
I see and read posts of parents disappointed that their child will be unable to walk to the podium and receive their diploma. On one hand, I can certainly relate—my child is to graduate from High School this year. On the other hand, I am a bit confused.
The lack of a graduation ceremony does not diminish the value of or undo any of the hard work put into earning the diploma. Not being able to see our kid step on a stage and wave to family and friends will not dampen the pride we all have in their accomplishments.
These unprecedented times seem to reveal a certain superficiality when it comes to graduation and how much we, as a society, seek validation from others.
Of course, I am disappointed that we cannot get together as a big group and celebrate. Who doesn’t like a party? However, this doesn’t mean we are cut off from sending our well-wishes, words of wisdom, or an announcement of pride for the graduate to savor.
The current pandemic is not the end of life or general progress. Our kids are not sent to war like in 1914 or 1939. They merely face uncertainty, as we all do. If anything, this should be a time when we build confidence and focus on what still is possible versus pointing out all the negatives.
Isn’t this what life is all about? Ups and downs? Isn’t this what we, as parents and guardians, have been trying to prepare our kids for? Dealing with uncertainties and how to overcome them?
We can’t have it both ways; we cannot cover our kids in bubble wrap and protect them from everything “bad” and unresolved in life, while wanting them to be mature and make important decisions that will help shape their future.
The current situation is a true test in overcoming diversity and the unknown without fearing death. We are not sending our children to war not knowing if we will ever see them again. Instead, we send them into the world that we, as parents, face every day. It is our job to help guide them in these uncertain times, not assist them in drowning in their disappointments.
There will be so many other times, in our lives and theirs, that will be cause for celebration, including the end of the current pandemic.
Our kids will still accomplish great things in their lives that they and we, as parents, can be proud of and celebrate. If they made close friends during their time in school, then they will keep those friendships throughout their lives. They will get together and celebrate each other’s victories and accomplishments, as well as support each other in times of loss, disappointment, and unpredictability.
How important is the graduation to your child versus you, the parent? Is it all about see and be seen? Is it merely a continuation of your own legacy? Your own accomplishments?
This is a short moment in a long life. It will be part of their own personal history, and a moment of growth. Additionally, this time together allows us to move closer toward each other, make our relationships stronger, and spend time together that we would not have had otherwise.
Therefore, instead of feeling sorry for our kids, let’s encourage them regardless of the circumstances. Let’s provide them with a positive outlook on life where all things are still possible, even if they are slightly delayed.
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