The Bittersweet Graduation Day

As parents, we love to see our children grow. At first, we smile at their independence, and rush to the phone to report each new accomplishment—the first time they roll over, their first step, their first word. But before long we find our excitement tinged with a touch of trepidation—their first day of school, their driver’s license, their first date. Somewhere deep inside we realize that each awkward step moves them further from our grasp. We wonder if we’ve prepared them for the big “Out There.”

Graduation is a bittersweet day for parents. Whether they’re graduating from kindergarten, high school, or college, we realize that they’re inching closer to the door. “Out There” is beckoning.

As daunting as that sounds, it’s also incredibly exciting. As they learn who they are and what they want to become, we see a glint in their eye that makes us proud. Graduation is a great time to demonstrate our trust in them and their decisions. We can do that with the gifts we give.

My parents gave me a set of luggage when I graduated from high school. It was a cool gift that encouraged me to take the next step to college and beyond. I also received a top-quality pen and a set of fine stationery to remind me to write. (Back then we couldn’t send an email or shoot off a text.)

Now that the kids can send email, text messages, and Skype, you may consider protecting their digital investments. Gifts such as protective covers for their iPad, tablet, or e-reader will encourage them to carry their gadgets with them wherever they go. And that will give you peace of mind, knowing you can contact them whenever you wish. You may also consider chargers and extra power sources. You can’t be too prepared.

Being out on your own and staring reality in the face often leads to reflection. Encourage them to document their thoughts, wishes, dreams, and disappointments in a quality journal. They may not think much about their thoughts and dreams now, but they’re sure to smile when they look back on them later.

Of course, if they ever want to reach their goals and live their dreams, they’ll need a plan. Help them out with a day planner. Teach them to start each day reflecting on their goals and scheduling what they plan to accomplish in order to reach them.

Whatever gift you give, we’re sure it will be thoughtful and heartfelt. After all, it’s one of the last gifts they’ll receive before they head “Out There,” and you’ll want it to make a strong impression.


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