It’s October 31, 2018. Seniors are starting to come to the realization they will soon need to make some adulting choices. Let’s face it; this is a scary time for them. Like wearing a bad Halloween costume at the cool kid’s party, students worry about the choices they have made concerning their future. It’s not easy mapping out the rest of your life. I mean, I’m almost 50, and there are days I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. So, what can we do to help them?
Here are a few tips for those of us who have been adulting just a little bit longer than our upcoming graduates:
- LISTEN to them. When I talk with teenagers, I try to ask more questions than provide them with advice. Why? So I can get a feel for what is really important to them. Also, when you say it out-loud, it becomes more real to you. So I give teens an opportunity to say it, whatever “it” may be. No judgments… just gathering information so that I can provide them with the best advice.
- BE HONEST with them. I think so many times we, as adults, want kids to think we have it all figured out. We tend to make them feel like they are inadequate to make decisions. While I truly believe in giving kids guidance, I believe they need to know I don’t have all the answers. Ultimately, it is in their power to make life altering decisions… Or it should be.
- SHOW THEM it’s okay to have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C… This is a huge world, and the possibilities are not limited. So many kids feel like their options are so limited. Why? Probably because we adults make them feel like their options are limited. Think outside the box. Give kids a global perspective. They are not limited to their geographic locations in this technological world.
- ENCOURAGE them to find themselves. I don’t believe any kid should enter adulthood without a serious inventory of his or her interests. I believe passionate workers make the best workers. We send far too many kids into career fields based on salary scales rather than interest scales. This is a mistake. I need not remind you of attrition rates in our institutions of higher learning, not to mention retention rates of companies.
- BE THERE for them. Let’s face it. It will take some more time than others to figure it out. I know I found that to be true in my personal life with my kid. When we see our children making decisions that we think are bad for them, it is natural to want to step in and just make the decisions for them. I know I want to every single time. But more than making decisions for them, we can be the support system they need in order to make decisions for themselves. All kids need to know they have someone in their corner, even when they make mistakes.
So, don’t allow graduation to seem so scary for the seniors around you. Offer your support. If they ask your advice, give it with extreme caution. Remind students often that no one truly has it all figured out from the beginning. Life is a journey, but it doesn’t have to be a Scream.