Every year at this time I offer what few words of wisdom I can impart upon graduating high school seniors.
Granted, it’s not much, from a man who’s had to learn about everything the hard way, but it’s the least I can do.
Grads, I know you’re all probably sick of your parents and everyone else over the age of 30 trying to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with the rest of your life. But you know what — we’ve paid our dues and now it’s your turn to sit there and listen to what we have to say.
We don’t try to tell you what to do because we want to control you or make life difficult for you, we say what we do because we’ve all learned these lessons ourselves. And we often learned the hard way — usually because we snickered and ignored the advice of adults who knew what they were talking about.
Here are a few examples:
• Don’t ever stand up to your parents like you are somehow bigger or tougher than they are. First of all they are your parents, second of all they can and will take you. My father, sick with emphysema, told me once when I stood up to him — the one and only time I thought of defying dad — that I’d better be sure of myself because he was going to lay the law down with me if I challenged him. I thought better of it. And my mother, I never even thought of defying because she wielded a broom like a ninja with great speed and agility.
• Parents aren’t necessarily trying to control you when they “interfere” in your decisions about things like college, jobs and relationships, they are just trying to do what’s best for you. If your parents are trying to steer you toward a specific college or university, maybe it’s because they can afford that one and not the one you want. Maybe they know you’ll get the best education where they are sending you. If they tell you you’re too young to be tied down to a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s only because they don’t want to see you get hurt.
Cut them some slack, listen to them and try to see it from their perspective.
• You are teenagers, young adults at best, you don’t need everything to be the newest, the best or the fastest. See those nice cars, cellphones, TVs and computers mom and dad have? They got those through hard work and they spent their hard earned money to buy them. Some parents have the means to buy the same for their kids, others do not. Again, cut your parents some slack when it comes to money. They can only do so much and at some point, if you want these things, you’re going to have to go to work to earn it for yourselves.
That’s it for this year, other than to say congratulations to each graduate and to wish them the best as they leave the nest and find their way in life.