Posts Tagged ‘college’

Tears of a Warrior

August 23, 2010

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It’s the rainy season. It may look warm and dry where you are, but take a closer look at the faces of parents with college-aged children and you’ll see what I mean. Tears by the bucketful are being shed as parents all across the country entrust their students to less hospitable institutions of higher learning. Mingled in the parential downpour of tears are my own and those of my wife, Anna. Having just returned from releasing our third child into remote collegiate settings, we know the rainy season well: the goodbye embraces, the contemplative silence on the journey home, the sense of sudden disconnection, and the what-if worries for their future. Empty place settings at dinner, vacant rooms and unfamiliar family dynamics are daily reminders that it is a rainy season and not just a storm.

This rainy season is a powerful force of transformation for parents and students alike. For them, it brings new friends, new learnings and new opportunities to hone their mettle. For us parents, this season is a reminder that children are our arrows. Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.” (NIV) Like a warrior, we are meant to powerfully release them into the world and not hold them selfishly in our quiver — even if it means wading through our own torrent of tears to do it.

Your thoughts? What are ways you’ve found to powerfully release your student?

This post was originally posted as a Thought for the Day on Leary’s personal blog.

“ConGRADulations”: 7 Ways to Celebrate Graduation

May 5, 2010

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You’ve cleaned up dirty diapers and bandaged “boo-boo’s”.  You just met the neanderthal taking your daughter to Prom and recently got a call from your son where he tells you he just cracked up the new car.  And, in between you’ve scolded, cuddled, kissed, spanked (can I say that?), wrestled, and worked on homework with them.  You made it through “THE” chat, with sweaty palms and a cracked voice and then wondered if they understood only to find out they knew much more than you expected (or wanted).  Trips and dates–dinners and late nights–movies and talks on the couch–evenings waiting for them to come home and mornings waiting for them to get up.  Ahhhh, 18 years filled with so many memories bring you to the day that you may dread but know is exactly why God lent them to you–you’re launching your child into the world.  Most of us will be launching them into college or some schooling.  Some into a job or even a young marriage.  It’s time to celebrate your child’s high school graduation.

Someday, I’ll chronicle the many and varied feelings my wife and I have had as we’ve launched two into college and will launch our last (daughter) this year.  But, though I’m nostalgic, I want to share how we can celebrate their accomplishment.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been pouring through thousands of pictures in iPhoto or songs in iTunes in order to produce the third graduation DVD.  Or, maybe it’s due to the fact that I’ve been watching my wife spend hours putting together a book of picture memories covering 18 years of our child’s life.  In any case, it’s our third time through this routine in the last four years (our son graduated in 2006, a daughter in 2008 and now our last in 2010).  So, over the next week or so, I’ll share various posts about graduation and celebration.  Now, I want to stimulate you with some thoughts about how you can celebrate this great moment in your children’s lives.  Here are 7 ideas to celebrate your child’s graduation—some we’ve done, a few that I’ve heard about and maybe a few I just made up but thought they sounded good 🙂 :

  1. PUT TOGETHER A DVD OF PICTURES AND SONGS THAT DEPICT THE MANY FACETS OF YOUR CHILDS CHARACTER. I’ve done this for our first two children and working on the one for our daughter this year.  I pour through “googleized” lists of songs that others have suggested for these kind of things and now have a lot of songs that I will share with you in another post.  I typically go way overboard on this and put together a DVD with a number of different slideshow arrangements.  But, you can keep it simple and still make it a powerful gift to give to family and your child.  We’ll sit down and watch it as a family when I’m done.
  2. CREATE A MEMORY BOOK OF PICTURES AND KEY WORDS. My wife has put together a memory book by going through years of old pictures and new digital ones.  We scan in the old to copy and use while printing the new.  Then, she uses various themes throughout by using different shapes, stenciled letter types and fabric or paper to make it interesting.
  3. HAVE KEY FAMILY AND FRIENDS WRITE A LETTER OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND ADVICE. Ask family and friends that have had an influence in your childs life to write a letter to them with words of encouragement by citing the character qualities they’ve observed in them.  Additionally, you can ask them to share a piece of advice or bible passage or story that might help guide your child into their upcoming unfamiliar steps.  As an added bonus you could put these letters into an album and give it to them as they head out to school or to their next adventure.
  4. EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY WRITES A TRIBUTE AND READS IT TO THE GRADUATE AT DINNER. Take your graduating child out to dinner with the entire family where each of you take turns reading letters to them (as they are able :)) about fun memories, things you’ll miss about them, things you won’t miss and some of the ways that he/she has impacted your life.  Make it fun and memorable.  Additionally, you can give them a special gift as a celebratory memory.
  5. ROAD TRIP. Map out a road trip for the summer between high school and college/job/?.  Make it a trip that might be themed after something that is geared for the graduates interests.  For instance, if she is into theme parks, consider driving to go to either one she’s always wanted to go to or take a “theme park tour” by hitting several over a 10-14 day stretch.  Or, if he loves baseball, consider a baseball tour or weekend event.  It might just be a camping outing if they love to camp and hike.  Whatever it is, make it about them.
  6. OPEN HOUSE. I grew up and lived most of my life in Minnesota.  An open house wasn’t an option, it was mandatory.  In fact, I had friends who would time the remodeling of their homes with the graduation of their children.   It is a way of life, at least in the metropolitan/suburban Twin Cities.  Since we’ve been in Arkansas, the idea of an open house seems to be catching on but has by no means been a “no brainer”.  So, if you live in a similar environment where you aren’t even sure what I mean by Open House, consider having one.  It can be a simple time of inviting friends and family over to your home, provide some simple refreshments, a large cake with congratulatory words and now digitally frosted photos and a home decorated with variously aged photos of the graduate placed around the home.

I’d love to have you add to my list and give me the 7 ideas I promised.  What have you done for your high school graduate to celebrate this accomplishment?  What are you doing this year?  Can’t wait to add your idea to my list.

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DadPad Quotes and Notes: Boomerang Gang

April 7, 2010

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home. Bill Cosby

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The countdown is on.  We are theoretically about 133 days to launching our last child to college.  I say theoretically because we have a son who is graduating and we have a strange feeling that he may be coming back.  So, just when you think you have finished a phase of parenting (the college launch), you enter into another one (the return to the nest of the graduated).  And we are just trying to figure out what that looks like.

We want to help our son and, quite honestly, I’m not sure if my wife can handle having me all to herself ;).  But, trying to figure out what is the best for him, for us and the family is easier in theory than reality.

On one hand, I want him to be able to grow up and mature.  On the other, it’s nice having him close.  We actually enjoy him :).  But, it’s good for him to be out on his own.  Currently he isn’t sure what he’s going to do for work (he has a biology degree but doesn’t want to go into medicine so he’s not sure how that will translate to career pursuits).  We know that he’ll need some time to sort through his options.

Besides, is it SO bad to have a college graduate at home for a little while?  I’ve been thinking lately about why we embrace individualism so much in this country when most other cultures try to keep the generations of families close, if not in the same home.  Additionally, I don’t see any biblical reference to moving as far away from family as possible as soon as you graduate from school.  Is this just an American phenomenon?  And, as our culture ages, are we seeing the impact of distance separating families affect how the elderly are cared for?  Ok…waxing way too philosophically.  But, I have thought about some of these things (weird, I know).

So, today, I’m reaching out.  I would LOVE to hear from you who have gone before me on this adventure, have journeyed through this with your kids and made some decisions about rules of returning home.  I want to hear how you decided how long they could stay at home after graduating; did you make them pay rent; what about chores? and things like that.  And, how did you communicate it to them?

Thanks for helping out a mom and dad who will soon need to make these decisions for real!

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DadPad Quotes & Notes: School of Hard Knocks

March 5, 2010

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.  ~Ruth E. Renkel

When I attended the University of Minnesota (back when the football team wore leather helmets — not really), I never wondered who or how it was going to be financed–I knew my mom and step-dad weren’t going to pay for my schooling.  I took out loans, worked through the summer and during school.  Of course, the cost of school back in the horse and buggy era was so much less than it is today.  Yet, it was a lot for me when I looked at not receiving any help.  I was able to stay at home and eat their food which certainly saved me a lot of money.  But, bottom line, school and expenses were my responsibility.

Fast forward to today’s outrageous college experience.  We are finishing up going through the college search for our third and final time.  I think sometimes our kids have felt a little “sorry for themselves” when they sense that they have to cover more of the costs of schooling than many of their friends.  Whether it’s through working hard to earn scholarships or having to take out a few loans (we’ve STRONGLY stated to them the dangers of going into deep debt for their education), they know that they will need to be mainly responsible for providing financing for their college experience.  And, quite honestly, my wife and I wish we could provide more financial help to our kids.  Yet, the reality of our situation just doesn’t allow for that.  Yet, in my more sane moments, I truly believe that the long term reward of them learning the cost and related benefit of their effort will more than offset our inability to help them as they’d like.  As with most of good life lessons, anything worth having is worth working for.

What lessons have your kids had to learn about going without or having to get something the “hard way” that you know will benefit them more than they understood at the time?