Friday, June 12, 2009

Advice From A Mom on Raising a Child Ready to Face The World After Graduation

In honor of graduation weekend, I asked a mom, Kimberly Scott, if she wouldn't mind if I interviewed her on how it is to see her first born graduate from high school and if she could give the rest of us some advice on how to nurture our young'ns for the day of flight. Kimberly is a friend of mine who I so much respect and was so thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions.

Here is what she had to say:

1. First of all, congratulations on your oldest son graduating from high school. How does it feel to know you have one child finished with elementary, middle, and their high school years? Where is he graduating and what does he plan to do next?

Ronnie is my oldest son in our a blended family of seven (you got that right, she said seven!-ss) children and the first child that I have 'released' into the world. He will be graduating from Eastlake High School and plans to pursue his general education at Southwest Community College for the next two years while living at home, and then would like to go to SDSU following. He talks about wanting to pursue becoming a Family Therapist, but also loves History... so like many his age he is not real sure about what his ultimate major will be.

2. How does it feel to watch your baby grow up and become a man right before your eyes?

I have had so many folks recently ask me whether or not I am struggling with emotion about that special day, but so far I have really felt a sense of RELIEF, and a mixture of concern and fear on whether or not we have properly prepared him to 'stretch' his wings. I know it is a futile task, but I can't help but wonder if we could have done more... Statistics prove that a child's character has been developed by age 12...if that is true, I would guess that attempts to shape him into adulthood ended around six years ago! :) Worrying obviously does not remedy the situation, but it DOES make me feel a little more validated as a mom...that's what we do well.
I have to say that I am VERY pleased about who Ronnie has turned out to be as a person. In all of the worrying about his education I can tell you that I do not worry about his values, and I pray that it will be this truth that will bring him favor and advancement in the workplace. My dad used to say to me in school..."I'm more concerned about raising you with character and integrity than I am about your grade on a math test." That principle has forged my parenting style from the beginning. I know that Ronnie is a young man that is honest and solid, and for that I thank God and my folks for their example.

3. What was your biggest challenge as a mother as you prepare him for leaving the house and going off on his own?

My biggest challenge in releasing my son to the world has been my desire to continue to nurture and coddle him. He works, is involved in sports, volunteers at church and has a full social calendar...but somehow when he walks through the door after a busy day, I immediately go into what I like to call the "Can I Make You A Sandwich" mode. I'm not sure if I do this more for him or for ME, but somehow it makes me feel more like I'm relevant to his life when I can rescue his appetite or help him in some small way. This morning before leaving for work I noticed he was checking drawers and the laundry room for spare change. I'll admit that I went into that 'sandwich mode' and went searching with him to help him fill his gas tank. What can I say... he needs me.

4. What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when he was five?

I have not spent too much time with concern about how he will do life when he leaves. I will admit that I have personally learned my most valuable life-lessons after I left the safety of my parent's home...and I trust that Ronnie will learn his the same. That being said, I spend a lot of time praying that as my children learn these lessons they will not be scarred for life but will be shaped and developed through them.
5. Do you have any advice to other parents on how to encourage and prepare their children to be ready for leaving the protection of their childhood home?
My advice to parents is this: Relax. There is no such thing as a 'perfect parent', so stop comparing yourself to someone else. They are as clueless as you are, but fake it better! There really are no experts in this field, because by the time we have learned how to do it right, it's usually due to the mistakes we have made through the process. I'm a big believer in grace. I have learned some of my most valuable lessons in parenting from the successes AND failures of my folks. I remember my father disciplining me too harshly as a six year old and consequently came into my room after spanking me and asked my forgiveness while tears ran down his face. He told me how much he loved me and that it was wrong for him to spank me so hard. that day my respect and love for my father was shaped for a lifetime. He made his mistake, and then he made it right... and in the process of learning and growing through it, HIS failure taught me a valuable lesson about forgiveness and humility. As parents we sometimes fail and as parents we sometimes succeed, our CHILDREN LEARN FROM BOTH. At the end of this journey we call parenting... I will still be... Can I Make You A Sandwich Mom.

Thank you Kimberly, for sharing with us. We can learn so much from those who have gone before us.

As my own children grow and their interests and personalities are becoming more defined (hate to say my oldest has always had a big personality since birth) I often wonder how they will survive life outside mine and my husband's protection. We do all we can daily to prepare them on how to react to situations, to treat people with kindness, to introduce them to a loving God, and to be disciplined with studies and work. And right now most importantly it is to listen and obey their mom! Ha ha. No, really in all seriousness, we really do try and talk through every situation with them now. We can only do our best with each day given. We are all learning on this journey called parenthood.

If you have had a graduate, do you have any advice? What have you learned or wish you knew before they graduated? If you have a child still moving towards their time of one day graduating, what would you like to know to prepare them for leaving your protection?

Note: Kimberly Scott is a pastor's wife as well as a pastor at Grace San Diego in San Diego, CA. She is also a speaker, a mom to seven, and a hostess with the mostess for sure.

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  1. What a great interview! I am so encouraged about how important it is to build character into our kiddos. Yikes! I'd love to hear more on HOW! :) like what do you do before age 12? :)

    Lots of prayer and babysteps, right?

  2. @NixonsMamma good question about how to build character in our kids! I might tackle that one in a future post. Thanks!