CNS PHOTO BY BARBARA JOHNSTON/UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Graduates celebrate at the University of Notre Dame at the conclusion of the May 15 commencement ceremony in Indiana.
CNS PHOTO BY BARBARA JOHNSTON/UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME Graduates celebrate at the University of Notre Dame at the conclusion of the May 15 commencement ceremony in Indiana.

It seems like graduates get tons of advice. Their teachers and heads of school give them parting words. The speaker at graduation pours forth some wisdom. Mom and Dad will share their insights, too. One group that could also use a few words themselves is this last group. It is amazing how time flies. One day they are asking you to pick them up, and now they need you to drop them off. Parents don’t just send their kids to the next step, they also need to let the next step actually be a step closer to adulthood and independence. So I offer five graduation gifts for moms and dads to help their kids.

  1. 10,000 Feet – The one thing you have that your child does not have is experience. You are able to fly at 10,000 feet with regard to your kids.  This is the same with Jesus.  He tells us, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  He tells us this because He knows what abundant life looks and feels like.  In your wisdom, you know a thing or two about this too, because you have made some good and bad decisions and learned from them.  Encourage your kids to stretch and grow in ways you did or wished you had.  Do not automatically send money their way when they call home to ask for more. Promote living on a budget.  Take advantage of your 10,000-foot vantage point.

  2. Fly Up – If you’re able to be up, stay up, even when your kids are annoying.  As they learn to step into the world, sometimes they may do this by pushing back at you.  It hurts, yes, but you and I most likely did the same to our folks in one way or another.  This is when it’s time to fly up.  St. Paul writes to the Ephesians,  “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger.”  Your kids may get you mad, but that does not mean they can make you do or say things that pulls you down to their level.  So stay up.  That’s what adults do, and you need to show them how.

  3. Down the Copter – While you want to help them dream, you also don’t want to live their lives.  We have all heard about helicopter parents, so don’t be one.  It’s hard to reach for the sky when the copter is blocking your view.  Make yourself a wee bit less available for the minutiae of daily living.  Remember we want them to live abundantly and not just be documenting  life for our entertainment.

  4. No – No is as loving a word as yes.

  5. Mass? –  Keeping your kids Catholic in our world is getting harder and harder.  Some may take a break from Mass at some point.  We just have to make sure it doesn’t become permanent.  Here’s one suggestion for the college-bound mom and dad.  Write a note to your child.  Tell them how much you love them and are proud of them.  Make it something that they will treasure.  Secretly put it in their stuff so they will find it at a later time.  In that note talk about their Baptism day and how that was the most important gift you ever gave them.  Then, explain in your own words why you hope and pray they will give God one hour back out of the 168 He gives them each week.