Categorized | Graduation

Parental Guidance for Graduation

Posted on 26 October 2008

For the last four years, you’ve been growing up and away from what’s familiar, and what’s familial. Now that you are zeroing in on graduation day, it’s time to reconsider where you’ve been in order to get some perspective on where you might be going – and that involves taking your family into consideration. More specifically, dealing with your parents on the day itself.

When you were younger, chances are your parents‘ say-so was sacrosanct. Whatever Mom and Dad wanted went.

But graduating from college is different. It’s time to take responsibility for what happens to you. Which means that you have to assert yourself, take control, and delve into interfamily relations, all while endeavoring not to trample the feelings of the ones you love. No easy trick.

Therefore, it’s also time to know when not to pick your fights. Sure, Mom might be displeased that you’ve decided to go au naturel beneath your robe. And Dad is going to bug you to shave off your soul patch; after all, he doesn’t want to look at that furry statement of your newfound freedom for years to come in the family photo album.

But just remember, you are not alone. There are people who love and care about you, and your compassion is never more important than it is right now. Your parents are probably feeling a little sad and scared that their no-longer child is slipping away from them. After all, you’re moving out into the real world and will likely not be as reliant on them as a means of support. So, as much as this is a somewhat frightening rite of passage for you, bear in mind that it is probably even more so for Mom and Dad.

Here are a few suggestions to help you keep things going smoothly between you and your parents on graduation day:

  • Do what you can to make the day a positive, memorable one. This might mean you ditch the Nikes and wear a pair of dress shoes to walk up to the podium.
  • Although the temptation may be great to go out partying the night before graduation, abstain! You don’t want to sleep through your graduation, or have your folks observe your monster hangover.
  • Plan as much as you can in advance. Help out with booking plane and hotel reservations weeks (not days) before commencement. You don’t want your parents sacking out on the floor of your dorm room, do you?
  • Don’t push their buttons. You know what they are. Which means you know how to avoid them.
  • If your parents are divorced, give a lot of thought to where you want to seat them. Many parents are mature enough to deal with the awkwardness of this situation. But if Mom is uncomfortable being around Dad’s new wife, do what you can to accommodate Mom.
  • Be aware that both parents may get upset about something at some point during your big day. Knowing this in advance allows you the opportunity to prepare for a response. Think about how you might react when Mom says she’s angry at you for bleaching your hair or when Dad blurts out that switching your major from pre-med to religion was a bad idea.
  • If your parents are particularly meddlesome, try not to let them get to you. They’re just acting on what they know. Remember, it’s not what they do that creates a problem; it’s how you respond.

Finally, just remember to behave in the way that you want to be treated. This will ensure your integrity. It will also reveal you to be a mature human being. How you deal with your parents will go a long way toward telling you, and them, what kind of person you’re evolving into.

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