10 Things to Do with Your Children before They Graduate

10 Things to Do with Your Children before They Graduate

High School Graduation: a culmination of hard work, emotional investment, sweat and tears. And I’m not even talking about the kids. Yes, the kids have done a lot of work to get to graduation, but we parents are clinging on by skin of our teeth getting through some of those years. A child graduating is as much of a parent’s success as a kiddo’s (insert teen eye roll, and parents’ head nod). 

That senior year goes by at warp speed. It is full of senior pictures, proms, and college visits. As parents, we are nostalgic about the whole experience. This is it, the last crescendo of raising our child. Oh, my heart. 

But just because our kids are becoming (gulp) adults and hopefully, productive citizens of the world doesn’t mean we can’t hold on to the last precious moments. There is still lots of fun to be had and many experiences to share. 

I’ve got a daughter in college, and, yes, this year my middle son graduates high school. So, I’ve got all the feels happening right now. I'm involved in every last ditch effort while we share the same address permanently. It’s my “Hail Mary” pass. Here are 10 things every parent should do with their children before they graduate. 

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  • 1. Talk to them about the love of Christ.

    1. Talk to them about the love of Christ.

    There is not a more valuable expression of love than to share your faith in Jesus. I know it’s difficult for some, but talk about it in the everyday moments. Let them see you lean on the Father in times of struggle and praise Him in times of joy. They will know that Christ is in the little moments and the big moments. He cares about them all. Your child needs Jesus. We all do. Model to them an authentic relationship with the Lord. They are about to become adults and life can be so hard with Christ, but impossible without him. Set them up to succeed. 

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  • 2. Stay up all night.

    2. Stay up all night.

    Now, I’m not talking about pulling an all-nighter studying, or wiping tears of a teenage broken heart. I’m talking about making an intentional choice to do something together when the world is asleep. Maybe it’s binge watching a TV series, or playing a few rounds of Trivial Pursuit. Or, in my case, staying up with my son until 4 am watching the presidential election. It gave us a special moment that we felt no one else had. Something we can relive with one another in years to come. We had dark circles under our eyes for a few days, but the memory was worth it. 

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  • 3. Take them to a symphony.

    3. Take them to a symphony.

    You’re probably thinking, “What!? You know how much that costs?” Why, yes I do. However, check your local paper or city arts guide and there are so many discounts for students and they have family nights that are very affordable. Save a few dollars a week for several months if you need to. Get dressed up. Make a night out of it. Spending time with your child as they are immersed in all the feeling and magic that music has to offer will be unforgettable. It moves the soul. 

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  • 4. Go inside their world.

    4. Go inside their world.

    Experience the things your kids like to do. If they love to read, read the same books together and talk about them. If they are the drama kid, go to a play together. Take the athlete to a game, or the budding chef to a cooking class. Even if it’s something you know nothing about or have the teeniest interest in, let them see you wanting to connect with them over a passion. They will take notice that you are investing in them. Plus, you never know, you may find yourself finding a passion of your own. 

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  • 5. Invite them into your world.

    5. Invite them into your world.

    Share your passions with your kids. Let them see what makes you tick, what excites you. Your kids enjoy spending time with you and knowing more about your life. Open yourself up. Share with them what you love and you may ignite a passion in your child that could last a lifetime. Plus, it’s something you love doing too, so it’s a win/win! 

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  • 6. Go on a weekend trip together.

    6. Go on a weekend trip together.

    This does not have to be an extravagant getaway. It could be camping out in the woods, or just that short visit to a college. Either way, go someplace just the two of you. Plan it together. Talk about where you’ll stay and what to eat. Build excitement around it. It allows for new experiences together and new memories to be made without the distraction of younger siblings.

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  • 7. Play a prank on your kid.

    7. Play a prank on your kid.

    Now, I’m not talking about scarring them for the rest of their lives. But jump out of a closet or place 100 Post-It notes on their bed. Show them a lighter side of you. There is nothing better than sharing laughter with your children. You know, parenting teens can be stressful, so break it up with some excitement. We play with our kids when they are little, so let’s continue to play with them when they are big. Just beware: this could start a cycle of hilarious fun. 

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  • 8. Take them to a museum.

    8. Take them to a museum.

    Share with them the greatness of those who have gone before. Our world is beautiful. Let them gaze upon paintings created centuries ago that etch their likeness to onto our souls, or show them what the world was like when dinosaurs roamed. There is just something so special about sharing the world. It is such a beautiful way to spark conversation and you may be inspiring your graduate in ways you’ve never imagined. 

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  • 9. Listen to their thoughts and ideas.

    9. Listen to their thoughts and ideas.

    As parents of little ones, we are so used to telling our kiddos to wash up, go to bed, do your homework. And, that works for the most part. However, when our kids become teens, that doesn’t work so well. Our graduate starts to grow and we begin to guide them instead of telling them what to do so much. They are supposed to be formulating their own ideas and opinions about things. Some of those ideas are going to be completely ludicrous, but others will be extraordinary. Your graduate is full of wonderful thoughts. Acknowledge them, discuss them, and guide them as they begin to understand how they feel about life. 

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  • 10. Write them a letter.

    10. Write them a letter.

    Your graduate is just about to embark on the world. Everything you have instilled in them up to this point, including their faith, is going to be tested when they leave your home. As parents, we can’t be there all the time and we can’t know all the ups and downs that our children will face. Give them the ability to have you near even when you aren’t. Write down how you feel about your graduate. Write how proud you are that they are yours. Tell him that you are praying for their wellbeing and their choices. Express how excited you are for their future, and encourage them in their faith. It is something that many of us would love to have from our parents. Give them the gift of you

    Graduation is a rite of passage. Our graduate may see it a newfound freedom, the “beginning” of their life, or even as an anxious time as they prepare for their future. As parents, we see it as a tender bittersweet journey as we let go of our children’s hands and watch them navigate their lives. We watch on bended knee as our prayers precede our children. It doesn’t mean we don’t parent our children anymore; it just means our parenting looks different. And, you know what? It’s supposed to. You have raised them with wings. Now, let them fly. 

    Written by Shannon DeGarmo; speaker; author of The Bounce Back Woman; Featured Contributor of Keep the Faith radio; Contributor of LifeWay’s HomeLife Magazine. Check out Shannon’s website (www.shannondegarmo.com) and visit her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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