He graduated in terms of actually taking the courses and getting the diploma. We graduated in terms of parenting him through the process. His undergraduate years as a student are now behind him, as are our parent-of-an-undergraduate years.
James Dobson frequently talked about the role of parents to “just get them through it.” I have mixed feelings about that phrase. I like the idea of parents seeing their offspring through the different stages of life, and going from A to B to C to D. But I think there’s more a parent can do. We can encourage them to completion of A and B and C, but we can also enrich the process so it isn’t reduced to a fatalistic ‘let’s get this over with and then we can relax.’ Women reading this are free to comment something like, ‘Only a male would say that parenting is just getting through it,’ because according to the stereotype, men are more goal oriented, and women are more process oriented. I would agree, there has to be more than just reaching graduation day, in the four or five years which lead up to it.
So yes, we worked to get him through it, but hopefully we also contributed to making it a life-changing experience regardless of the outcome; though, for the record, he did pass every course.
This also seemed like a good place to reiterate some text which has appeared, I believe, three times here now.
Our kids hated road trips. We would get to a city, walk into a motel, pull out our coupon book, and then be told that due to a soccer tournament, there were no motels with openings anywhere within an hour radius. Back to the car, hungry, hot, tired, and another hour’s drive.
Later on, we discovered the joy of planning destinations ahead, and making reservations, though by that point, the kids were older and opting out of our excursions.
Their road trip phobia later turned into an interesting object lesson. I told them that somewhere in the future, they will find themselves in situations that will tempt them to compromise their principles, or do something foolish and unsafe. We said that like our motel example, they need to pre-book their choices. That way they won’t regret something done in the heat of the moment. Decide now what they will and won’t do.