Moms Talk: What Would (Will) You Advise New Grads?

Is this a time to pass on pearls of wisdom — or keep your mouth shut and let your kid just take center stage?

Graduation is tomorrow, Thursday night, for this year's eighth graders at the , and on Friday night for seniors leaving following a high school career that undoubtedly will leave its mark, hopefully mostly for the best.

As I write this, neighboring high school students in the Somerset Hills School District, who graduated from Bernards High Wednesday night, probably already are in possession of their newly minted high school diplomas.

And then there's the college degrees that some of our children may have just received...

I've been through all three of those graduation ceremonies at least once, sitting twice through very steamy graduations at William Annin, (BTW guys, great idea to move — but you might want to consider doing it every year!) each of those times with at least some tears in my eyes and emotions close to the surface.

But, I must say, of the three, the Ridge High School graduation was the most profound.

To some extent, after the William Annin graduation, I was just happy that my students were moving on to high school. No matter how Ridge students may complain sometimes, the high school creates many new opportunities for its attendees and makes them (sorry, guys) less dorky than they were in middle school.

And during college — although they are not quite there yet — your child already has taken significant steps into adulthood even if they didn't live away on campus. You're proud, but mostly proud of what they accomplished.

However, high school graduation isn't ONLY a graduation from four years at Ridge, Bernards High, or wherever.

It's the final step (warning: those who don't want to hear me indulge in some sentimentality should click off here) in the journey that began with that first walk to the kindergarten door, where you dropped off your baby, or at least your preschooler.

It's all the wonderful experiences you've had, and people you've met through your child's school and group of school friends. It's the (perhaps unexpected) horrible moments you thought you might not get through.

And it's — let's face it — a very deep sigh of relief.

What happens from here? Do you give your son or daughter advice before or after they head off to (hopefully) after Ridge's graduation on Friday night, and share what should be a drug and alcohol-free final get-together with a good number of their peers?

Do you talk to them about how you felt after graduation, if you even remember? Do you think they even want to hear how you felt, or the ways you developed to deal with the uncertainty of life after you emerged from the lengthy cocoon of being a K-12 student?

And students — is this a time for a heartfelt conversation with parents? Or do you just want time to spread your wings — and maybe have that deeper discussion when you have a better idea of where you are heading? 

One thing you/they can count on. Those high school bonds are stronger than graduating students may think after their initial flight from the nest! The friends you made at your high school will be there for you in years to come, even if it takes some time to circle back.

Linda Sadlouskos (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 01:49 AM
For those who attended the Bernards High ceremony on Wed. in Bernardsville — how did it go tonight? Hopefully, pictures are on the way! LS
Colleen Epple Pine June 21, 2012 at 03:12 AM
"Once a parent, always a parent"....I leave them with words of wisdom at graduation and every time they walk out the door. Maybe a word or two will register. For us, the message always resonates with our need to be proud daily in our efforts to strive for success, friendships, a strong faith, duty to family and service to others (not in that order). We also hope the children enjoy their journey and we encourage them to live life to the fullest, and,at the end of "the day", BE HAPPY!
Andi Williams June 21, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Graduation from WAMS meant little to us as parents. We had never been exposed to all the hype of any type of graduation in the UK, save that from University. (That's right, not even from high school.) Things may well have changed over there by now but we were really surprised when we learned that we needed to rent a gown, etc., to transition them from middle to high. The kids enjoy it,though, so fine! I'm a year away from a high school graduation but I am currently evaluating the skills (or lack of) that I have taught my kids to equip them with leaving the nest and have had a reality check. Hence, had you passed by my house last night, you'd have seen one kid BBQing (who was more fascinated with the flames than the quality of the meat), another kid carrying laundry in an overflowing basket around the house and the other trying to start the lawn mower. Back to normal today, thank goodness -- it was all rather stressful!!
Linda Sadlouskos (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Andi -- They'll amazingly learn when they have to. But not before, at least not without a struggle. Maybe we need an AP course in life survival skills!


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