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A vision for new graduates

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

This is the last in my three-part series dedicated to parents of this year’s graduating class.

I endeavored to encourage parents in their selection of gifts to bestow on the graduate. New cars and computers are worthy presents for these young achievers. Yet, the most influential blessings you can give are those that will significantly impact the decision making and conduct of your developing adult while they explore their new freedom.

Three of the most indicative reflections of a parent’s blessing are the passed-on knowledge, rules and vision that your children will carry with them from home into their future. I covered knowledge and rules in the past two weeks. Today, we discuss vision. I am ending this admonition with what I believe is the most important gift you can give your child before they start their journey into adulthood. The word of God says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). This statement alone supports the importance of vision.

Whether you realize it or not, a parent’s vision for their child’s future starts early. Studies in psychology and pedagogy support the Biblical truth that a developing child is primarily impacted by the parent’s aspirations for their child’s education and future success. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6 KJV).”

Some of these same studies suggests that self-efficacy and understanding of worth are stronger in young people who have been encouraged by parents with hope and vision for the future. When we continue to give encouragement and affirmation and reinforce the hope for a future even against adversity and struggle in the world, we help them remain motivated not for what we see for them but what they view for themselves.

Recently, I was listening to a live-stream by local health enthusiast, Rachael Watson, who shared the testimony of her weight loss journey. In 2012, she started on her quest to lose weight and keep it off. Now 62 pounds down, she spoke of the vision she had back in 2012 for her future self. That vision motivated her to keep going.

This concept of being motivated by your future self is the gift we need to impart to our children as they leave home. Your future self is the vision of the mirror call that is calling you forward. Terri Savelle Foy, who has dubbed herself “the cheerleader of dreams,” wrote that “dreams stretch your imagination. Goals stretch you.” I encourage you to teach your children to dream not just to say that they have a dream but because they desire to see themselves go beyond what is expected or required of them. Help them understand that visioning will stretch them beyond their comfort zone.

One of my favorite books to give graduates is “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson. It is a beautiful story of a young man named Ordinary who dared to go after his dream. When he thought he arrived at the dream, The Dream Giver pressed him further. In the end, The Dream Giver tells him, “Let me show you more.” The moral of the story is the pursuit for your greater is always moving you beyond what you see. Our lives are full of promise and the promise keeper, the Dream Giver is a God of forward momentum. Having a vision keeps your focus forward.

Vision boards are a familiar means of helping us keep that forward focus. Graduation can be a great time of uncertainty. Rather than building a vision board just showing things that they wish to achieve, encourage your graduate to build a vision board with words and images of things that attract their attention. The important aspect of vision work is that it should compel your graduate to act. In times when their hopes seem dashed because of low grades or difficulty achieving the next goal, the vision board serves as a reminder that their future self is attractive, real and waiting on you to show them more.

Congratulations, parents. Keep your prayers coming as your graduate continues to achieve great things. Our children are the future.

  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.