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Do not leave without this lesson

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

This is dedicated to the parents of the graduates.

About 950 Suffolk teens will hear their names called in graduation ceremonies this Saturday. While a mix of emotions flutter through the hearts of young achievers who sit anxiously in row after row with their classmates, milestone moments are playing picture shows in the minds of mothers and fathers.

A mother reaches for a tissue as she thinks of that first day she let go of his small hand to ride the school bus for Early Start at Oakland Elementary School. Not too far away, a father remembers the first time she felt brave enough to walk alone to the front door of Forest Glen Middle School. A grandmother sits motionless with her head slightly tilted towards the sky as she remembers the son who is watching this day from the windows of heaven. We cannot peer into the thought screens of every proud supporter today. Yet, we can be confident that the earth around us is bursting with the joy, praise and memories that have led to this day.

I do not have a child graduating this weekend, but I can barely write this tribute without feeling tears begin to swell in my eyes. Just as much as “Hooray” is an expression of joy, it is a proclamation of goodbye. The diploma represents accomplishment and establishment of maturity. Although many of you cannot believe the day has finally come, it is time.

In the next two to three months before the fall semester begins all over the country, families will make preparations to send these new adults to their next destinations. Just before you do, I want to encourage you to ensure that they do not leave home without what they need. There are three important gifts every parent of a graduate should insist their son or daughter never leaves home without. May this encourage you to have some heart-to-heart conversations before they step across your threshold into the next open door.

Your child has spent more than 80 percent of their life in a classroom of some kind since the age of three or four. As a parent, your responsibility over summer vacations has been to lessen the amount of summer learning loss as possible. Now that they will leave the nest, your responsibility is to prevent life learning loss.

The Bible says in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (ESV)

This knowledge that prevents destruction is far more than multiplication facts and text comprehensive strategies. Education takes place when knowledge is exchanged and imparted. Maturity takes place when knowledge is reinforced and applied. You must make sure your child has basic truth to carry him so that the world does not carry him away. Here are some insights you must share before your achiever leaves home.

  • Ensure she knows that her parents truly love her. Help her recognize love.
  • Remind him of your history and how he came to be. Heritage should be well preserved.
  • Let him know the truth of what you think of him.
  • Ensure she knows the foundational values that are pillars in your life.
  • Tell her who she can call if she cannot reach you for some reason.
  • Make sure he knows how to wash his own clothes and will not depend on a girl to do it.
  • Teach her how to choose friends well.
  • Show them how to manage money. Solicit financial tutoring assistance.
  • Emphasize the importance of safeguarding their identity, credit, personal belongings and
  • health.
  • Explain to them the dangers of reckless behaviors and not thinking things through.
  • Remind them of their faith and help them locate a church family away from home.

I have never believed that wisdom is reserved for the elderly among us. You only have to read the words of Elihu in the Biblical story of Job to know that wisdom is given to young people also. We need our children to be wise adults when they leave for college, military service, or to start their own path in entrepreneurship or craftsmanship. They will make their own decisions. Take the time to inform them well so that they are making well-educated decisions from the knowledge you passed on to them.

There are two other gifts I want to encourage you to give your graduate. Stay tuned for next week’s column. Congratulations to all of our Suffolk graduates. Make sure you tell a parent of a graduate, job well done!

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.