Although buds are quite slow to pop and leaves have yet to appear on a lot of trees, we are already in grad season, preparing to send another batch of our young on a journey called life, one on which they will have to start to learn taking on challenges all by themselves.
Of course, at the beginning of the road, they will continue to find support from family or friends, but slowly they will have to grow into their roles as independent individuals pursuing their own goals in their own way.
As the classic saying goes, “life is full of surprises” and you never know what it will throw at you: On that unpredictable path, there will be high hills to climb over, green pastures to wildly run on and dark tunnels to pass through; there will be ups and downs because of who knows what, an unfortunate illness, a broken relationship, a failed business venture or breach of confidence on the part of someone loved or trusted.
So, like all those before them, the new travelers, too, will at one time or other, stumble or fall on their journey, and just like with all those before them, what will distinguish the new travelers among their peers is how they will rise up after the fall.
As the people who have already passed (or failed) at the tests that life has given us, as their parents, teachers, uncles, aunts, brothers or sisters, what are we, adults, to offer the young men and women in terms of advice at this turn of their lives?
Should we encourage them to be bold and pursue their dreams regardless of the challenges that those dreams might bring about?
Or is it better to recommend prudence, or even to caution against being too brave in taking their steps towards the unknown?
Is there a one-size-fits-all recipe?
The answer is, of course, a categorical NO.
Just like a baby boosting its immunity system by getting sick and overcoming it, new graduates will and should be allowed to make mistakes to learn from them, but that doesn’t mean that their guarding angels, be they parents or relatives or teachers, should drop all the defenses around them, but probably keep watching them at distance, and interfere only if and when necessary, to prevent them from committing what might turn out to be fateful errors.
If one would use an allegory, it is like the young birds have reached the time of leaving the nest, have developed the skills to fly on thelr own, but they still need some guidance on how to navigate their flight path.
Here family and friends have a probably one final and vital role to play to steer the young bird in the right direction just to make sure the flight path will not be covered by branches and acceleration to cruising altitude will go ahead without problems.
It is a difficult balancing act: Keeping a protective cover over our young while allowing them to start to make their own decisions at the risk of acceptable failures requires a lot of prudence on the part of the adults who care for them. That is something they may not appreciate immediately, but will certainly realize as they grow older into role of guardian angels themselves.