GRADUATION SEASON 2012 – There were approximately 3.2 million graduating high school seniors and 1.78 million college graduates.
Elementary School Graduation: 12-year-olds – are young, excited and nervous for middles school; already equipped with elementary swagger and iPhones; over grown on a campus full of younger, smaller students; questioning their arrival to a high school where male students have beards; contemplating classes that are far apart and breaks that are short; dreaming of decorating lockers and worried that they will not get their codes correct. Proud Parents – beaming and excited as they watch their children happily singing on the graduation stage; they are parenting 12-year-old children, who are still cute and talk back as an Exception, but not as a Rule! Their young teenage children still think that their parents know what they are talking about; the parents have not yet become the dumping grounds for cranky teens with raging hormones, radical pressures and rampant insecurities.
Middle School Graduation – 14-year-old teenagers have spent the last few years conquering larger campuses, ramping up the level of work and navigating the likes of Mean Girls; they are ready to start high school where grades count, parties unlike bar/bat mitzvahs are unchaperoned, and where drugs and drinking are present. These teenagers believe that their parents have NO idea what they are talking about (aka Do Not Understand Them!) and where talking back is the RULE and not longer the EXCEPTION. Cautious Parents – observe their kids are no longer really cute and at the same time are not really mature; Parents walk on pins and needles as not to rock the teenage titanic; they find it harder to have meaningful conversations about real issues: teenage boys become grunting cavemen and teenage girls reserve dynamic conversations for their friends, not their parents. Simple saying “no” to these teens is earth shattering, intolerable and necessary! No parent wants to rush their children’s development, but middle school is one period that has parents questioning survival.
High School Graduation – 18-year-olds have one foot out the door and ready or not, they are preparing for the next step – for many it is college, but for all it is a time where they continue to mature, learn and live more independently. High school graduates now have this meaningful accomplishment – a high school diploma – that they will carry with them their whole lives! Most 18-year-olds still think that their parents know very little – there is no accounting for 40-50 years experience and education. Conflicted Parents - proudly watch their practically adult children walk across a stage, receive their diplomas and wonder where the time went; they are more than ready for their grown teenagers to leave the house and yet not ready for their children to leave them. Proud parents watch their graduating children and think – all the craziness, screaming, door slamming, debating and disagreeing that took place over the last years, cease to matter and yet were all vital ingredients baked into their children’s development.
College Graduates Young Adults are faced with the difficult realities of finding work in a time where getting a job at Starbucks is challenging even for college graduates. Unemployment is high, and the ease or chance of buying a lotto ticket or being at the right place at the right time perhaps out weighs the benefits of hard work and dedication. The insulation of family, campus, and internet are replaced with strangers, foreign cities and face-to-face combat. Most graduates have started to re-realize that their parents are pretty smart and have some knowledge and some benefits. Incredulous Parents – celebrate the end of paying for their adult children’s education. They encourage them to get meaningful and interesting jobs or let’s face it – A JOB! Parents want their children to follow their dreams, but they also want the word Passion to be in the same sentence (or paragraph) as Pay Check! All mothers and fathers definitely juggle many cliches at this time: Time has really flown by! Where did the time go? It seems like it was just yesterday.
I like – “When one door closes another one opens!”