When teenagers are in the later years of high school, parents have a tendency to lessen their involvement. But parents need to stay connected relationally and continue to lead their children spiritually. Between the ages of 16 and 18, parents must help their teenagers develop the practical and spiritual skills to leave home. Our seminar teaches parents how to prepare their teenagers for the world outside of the nest. This can be a very healthy time in the family journey if parents continue to keep the lines of communication open with their sons and daughters. We are coming along side of you and empowering you to successfully launch your child into life after high school instead of passively letting them go. This is an exciting time for your family in so many ways. This Milestone gives parents the opportunity to bless their sons and daughters who will soon be stepping into a new stage of life and may be leaving home. May God bless you as you walk this important path together with your family, the church and your son or daughter.
This seminar is meant to be a time of gaining perspective before life after high school begins. We will set up a number of conversations that are meant to help parents and their graduate gain perspective into the coming transition. Our intention is to assist parents in being intentional and successful in launching their graduate into a God honoring life no matter the path they are taking post high school. For the graduate, we desire to help them articulate what they believe, challenge their thinking, and remind them of the “basics” already learned during earlier years. We want graduates to own their faith and beliefs. All of this together is intended to encourage strong relationships between parents and graduates.
1. Connecting Grads and Parents
You have already had all kinds of conversations with your son or daughter about their future, but it’s not a bad idea to have at least one more. Share about your own hopes and fears concerning your college years. Most importantly, be sure to discuss your expectations for when your son or daughter will come home if they are moving out. Transitioning back to “family life” after being away can be difficult and sometimes stressful. Graduates will be going through many changes, meeting new friends and learning new ideas. Graduates need a clear sense of what to expect post high school before they get there. Conversations like these can begin to paint a clearer picture of what’s ahead and help to alleviate anxiety caused by this transition.
2. Self Conversation for the Graduate
It’s a good idea to take an honest look in the mirror. Graduates need to pay close attention to the kind of person they are becoming. The years between 18 and 25 have been called the “critical years” because during this time you will be making decisions that will be formative for the rest of your life. College professor and author of How to Stay Christian in College, J. Budziszewski explains what’s at stake during this transition. “You really are grown-up in one sense (you have full adult responsibilities) even though you really aren’t grown-up in another (you haven’t finished developing). What kind of person are you going to become? I’m not talking about the courses you want to take or the kind of job you want to get someday; I’m talking about the qualities you want to have. Do you desire to be wise, fair and honest—or foolish, unfair and crooked? Kind, loyal and reliable—or mean, backstabbing and unreliable? Brave, faithful and pure—or cowardly, weak and stained? Maybe you’ve thought about the kind of person you want to become but not about how to become that person. Every act, every decision, every thought will move you either a little closer to being that kind of person—or push you a little further away.”
3. Gaining Perspective
You may think you know everything there is to know about the coming transition but you might be surprised. It’s always good to talk to someone who has recently gone through the transition so you know what’s ahead. Seek wisdom and advice from them about what to expect during your first year out of high school. What surprises did he or she find? What mistakes were made? Talking to someone who has currently experienced and those that did long ago are good ideas. Hopefully you have someone in your life that has brought you along in the faith, someone you can talk to openly and honestly about all areas of life. This would be a good person to talk to about transitioning into life after high school. What are your biggest concerns? How do you think your faith will be challenged? Ask him or her they have observed in your life. What are their concerns for you? What does he or she think are your strengths and weaknesses? And, most importantly, set up times for this to be an ongoing conversation.
4. Seeking Godly Wisdom
Old Testament books that are very appropriate for this stage in your life are Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Proverbs is about a young person leaving home in search of wisdom. Sound familiar? And Ecclesiastes, while admittedly difficult to follow at first (it takes time … read it again and again), will keep you honest as you learn “new” ideas. Solomon is a valuable conversation partner you don’t want to miss. He will do most of the “talking,” you just need to listen and take his advice to heart. Having a continual conversation with God through scripture and prayer are important spiritual disciplines to develop. God is another crucial conversation partner to engage as youth enter a new phase of life.
As a church our rhythm for celebrating our graduates is to recognize them on a Sunday service. We encourage all graduates and their families to join us for this celebration. Invite family and friends to the church celebration service in late spring. The service will have a special focus centered on celebrating the high school graduates. Sit in the front row with cameras ready! Invite significant mentors from your son or daughter’s life to join in the special prayer time that will take place.
We want you as parents to celebrate and launch your son or daughter during one of the most defining moments your son or daughter will go through: high school graduation. One way we encourage you, the parent(s), to do this is to write a letter of blessing to your graduate. We suggest a three step approach to this family celebration.
1. Write a letter of blessing. (Sample Letter available here)
2. Plan a special moment around presenting your son or daughter with the written blessing.
3. Equip yourself to have important conversations with your student over the next few years.