Pomp and Circumstances

Blog · May 09, 2023

Cap and Gown? Check. Mortarboard? Check. Diploma? Almost.

Proud parents? Absolutely.

So, what else should graduates and their loved ones have at the ready for when those tassels finally swipe left?

Just like with prom, open, honest communication between parents and their graduates is vital in the lead up to graduation celebrations. The conversation should be about marking the occasion.  It should be about celebration and optimism and less about warnings and dread.  Talk to your graduates about what they accomplished in high school and opportunities they envision that are to come.

Are they excited? Anxious? Sad? Nervous? Terrified? Ecstatic?

More than likely, they’re feeling all of that and more.  The anticipation and uncertainty inherent in the graduation season is the epitome of mixed emotions.

And that’s okay.

This is a time to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future.  Everyone involved will feel happy and sad and everything in-between. Talk to them about it.  Share your fears and worries and hopes.  Ask them to share theirs.  Remind them that it is okay to feel these things.  It would be odd if they didn’t.  As you prepare to send them off into the next phase in their lives, let your graduates know your expectations for them.  You expect them to make healthy choices and good decisions, and those expectations don’t expire when they receive their diplomas.

Adulting Begins Now

These days it seems that being an adult is defined by an ability to juggle multiple streaming services and order food delivery.  Perhaps.  However, being an adult requires the self-management to balance wants and needs to maximize the bounty of what life can offer and be able to pay for it.  Rising graduates can begin this journey in how they plan to mark the occasion.

Talk with your seniors to assist them in devising strategies to implement if alcohol is introduced at any of the parties they attend.  Include strategies for any celebrations hosted by parents who choose to turn a blind eye to underage alcohol use.   Remind your seniors that, even though they’ve officially graduated, their brains are still developing.  Reiterate the point that the harmful effects of alcohol are damaging to the teenage brain and body, even after they graduate.

Keep the lines of communication open and free flowing.  You want to know you’ve expressed your thoughts to your teen, but more importantly you want them to be comfortable talking with you about what they plan to do to celebrate.  Remember, they’re still teens and still learning.  You’ll rest easier knowing they know what to do if they need you.

Picture It…

Remembering where we’ve been prepares us to aim better at where we want to go.  Practice your multimedia film production skills and make a “Look at You!” slideshow to share with your graduates so they can celebrate their achievements and remember how far they’ve come and how much they’ve grown.

“Do you remember your first base hit when you played T-ball?” or “Do you remember when you won 1st place in the regional eighth grade science fair?”

Those are just a few examples of healthy, positive accomplishments that you can share with your graduates and friends and family members.

Did you save any of the scholastic or athletic trophies, pins, or badges your graduates won in high school?  What about in middle or elementary school?  If so, feature them with your slideshow.  Participation ribbons alone have merit, value, and memories.  Also, the fact that you held onto all their plaques and trophies will let them know their awards matter to you as much, if not more, than they did to them when they first won them.

Think about the first time they raced home from kindergarten to hand you their drawings to tack up on the fridge. Hard to tell who felt more pride and sense of accomplishment. By sharing their adolescent honors with them, you can inspire them to guard over them as they continue to practice making healthy decisions on their journey through life.

Nostalgia is a powerful sentiment to call upon. Every step graduates take can be risky, so remind them they’re in control of their choices and will continue to be capable of making good decisions. Every graduate has things they wish to protect and the capacity to get more. So, embolden your graduates to think about their past positives so they will continue making good decisions to generate future ones.

Embrace Your Inner Child

More than likely, graduates and their friends will soon be parting ways.  Whether they or their friends will be attending out-of-state colleges or universities, entering the workforce, traveling abroad, or embarking on other post-graduation adventures, commencement might be one of, if not the last chance for them to celebrate this milestone with friends. So, suggest your graduates make a pact with their fellow graduating friends to celebrate all of their successes together without drinking.

High School graduation is one of the final steps into adulthood, but before that happens, give your graduates and their friends one more chance to act like kids again.  Whether it’s a pool party or BBQ, a trip to the beach, or a day at the go-kart track, there’s still time for innocent fun.

Urge your graduates to go have fun with their friends.  Safely.  When they refuse to drink, they’ll have a great time and be able to remember all the fun they had too.  

High School is a wonderful learning experience for teens and life is an interactive experience whether they want it to be or not. So, inspire your graduates to practice healthy living strategies so the same can be said about graduation and all their exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

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