Only a few months away, and parents around the country are going to be celebrating/grieving their students graduation from High School. Some will genuinely be excited to watch their kids grow into this new phase of life, but many struggle. And by struggle, I mean S-T-ruggle with the fact their kids are growing up.
If you’ve been following the blog recently, I’ve been updating The KIVU Gap Year section to reflect interviews I’m conducting with current KIVU Gap Year parents. I ask them questions like “Why did you choose The KIVU Gap Year?” “What are the best parts?” and “What are the ways we can better communicate to you?”
Over and over I hear parents articulate their mourning process from Hey there’s a teenager in my house to Where did the time go?
This last week, I was talking with a couple of parents about the implications of a Gap Year with their student in our program and I asked, “What have been some of the biggest surprises you’ve noticed as your student goes through the program?”
Mom answered, “I know this is such a little thing, but when our son came home after the first semester for Christmas, I watched him engage with his friends in a different way. He was listening instead of talking. He was empathizing instead of being sarcastic. It’s almost like he is growing up to see people as people no matter what they’re going through.”
Another mom said, “I know this might sound trite, but after eating dinner one night, I noticed my son went into the kitchen to clean up the meal without being asked. He cleaned the table, did the dishes, and took over from his sisters without any prodding. Maybe that’s just maturity, but he would NEVER serve like that in the past.”
As I listened, I chuckled inside.
One of the most impressive parts of helping students “grow up” is showing them the value of serving others.
It’s easy to live life and expect others to pick up after you.
It’s easy to see the world through self centered eyes.
It’s easy to adopt a worldview where ‘you’ are the most important part of the universe.
But true joy comes when you transition from the self centered child who expects from others to the giving human who looks out for other’s needs.
“Andy, we’ve watched so many of our community friends go straight to college, and we’ve watched them now come back home. Nobody expects their kid to fail at school, but you know the statistics. We just didn’t want to be another number, we wanted to invest in the growth and maturity of our son. And after all, as of January, my son has traveled to more places around the world than I have. And that’s cool!!” one father explained
“I heard about The KIVU Gap Year at a family dinner table about 2 years ago when you came to Dallas to speak. I was sold immediately. I knew our son would be in a space to challenge his faith, but be guided by world class mentors to help him understand Jesus. You guys are such a blessing to my family. My son now wants to talk about spiritual things, and he’s never done that before.” another mom testified.
The KIVU Gap Year is full of value added propositions. Not only are students traveling the globe, working with people immersed in various cultures, and understanding global events; they are actually becoming more giving, more self aware, more intentional human beings.
And that’s why the KIVU Gap Year is one of the most important programs I’ve worked on in my life. To give students the opportunity to broaden their worldview, explore who THEY are personally, and be able to experience so many forms of vocation….well…it’s such a wonderful feeling to give back to the world.
So when you feel that displaced feeling of loss when your student stands on the precipice of life, don’t forget, it takes a village to raise our kids to a healthy place. We can create spaces where your student explores the most important parts of themselves before they go off to University life. We can do this together, and loss turns quickly into a deep sense of pride when the sparkle in their eyes says, “Well done. I am who I’m supposed to be.“