By Top Contributor Dr. Judy Yaron
Do I have to go to my kid’s preschool graduation?
5 simple things you can do instead
Your second-born is finishing pre-school and the graduation ceremony – caps, gowns, cupcakes and all – is next Friday at noon. No meeting planned, and with a bit of shuffling of your schedule, you could make it. But, let’s face it, watching a bunch of five-year-olds march across the stage with moms, dads, and grandparents too, shoving one another to get close up snaps of awkward smiles, is not exactly your can of beer.
Has the world gone mad?
What parents in their right mind buy into all this pre-school graduation hype? Don’t they get it? It’s no more than a brilliant marketing scheme to give photographers, music teachers, and cupcake bakers an opportunity to make a bit of extra cash by exploiting preschool staff’s need to show-off and be showered by gifts as well as parental love and guilt. On top of having to pay for all this bullsh*t, should parents really have to prove their devotion to their kids by taking time off from work?
What’s more, it’s a never-ending merry go-round of mollycoddling celebrations! Between sports tournaments, music recitals, school plays and the like, all of which demand parental attendance, when are family breadwinners supposed to get any work done? By creating a precedent, you are only setting your kids up for disappointment, when in future, you do have a meeting or some other engagement you can’t get out of.
Also, with all this kiddie indulgence, think of the self-defeating message, we are sending our kids: that you get an award, just for showing up and doing your job. That’s not how it works in the real world. With such celebrations, all we are doing is snowballing kids’ sense of entitlement. Even if there are some parents, who think so, kids aren’t the center of the Universe, and the earlier they understand this, the better.
Besides, who says that the preschoolers even enjoy this kind of stuff?
You’ve never admitted to anyone, but you were traumatized by your preschool graduation. You felt stupid wearing a goofy cap and dreaded going on stage with everyone staring at you. You still remember you had a bellyache all morning and were petrified of pooing in your pants! You begged your mom to stay at home, but she kept telling you to be a big boy. Years later the penny dropped and you realized that the whole shenanigan was more about her than you. She couldn’t face the embarrassment of her son not participating like the rest of the flock. What would other parents say?
As all these thoughts go zipping through your mind, you can see your spouse sitting you down for The Talk.
How often do you truly celebrate your kids’ accomplishments? Big achievements are few and far between. Life is made up of small successes! It may not seem like a big win for you, but for your son, it means something. He has had to overcome huge hurdles this past year, like holding back tears when other kids tease him and letting go of mommy’s hand at the gate and running up the stairs on his own. When will you get it into your head that life is too short and fragile to put off celebrating just for the big wins! Besides, it’s a chance for some family fun. You work too hard and need to learn to chillax.
So, what should you do?
Well, there are always win-win solutions. Here are a few:
- Talk about it. Ask your children what the graduation, the match, the recital or any other such event actually means to them. You might also want to delve a bit deeper and explore with them, what they feel they have achieved during the year. Share your own childhood experiences: what graduations and similar events meant to you and how you felt about your own parents attending or not. Discuss other milestones and events your children will be celebrating in the years to come. Then, together choose one or two that you will be sure to participate in.
- Choose someone to go in your place. Preschool graduations are an awesome occasion for grandparents or loving aunts and uncles, who may be more available. You will probably be doing them a big favor!
- Have someone videotape the graduation. If you can’t get a parent to do so, perhaps a member of staff will be happy to do so for free or for a modest sum. Then cuddle up on the sofa and watch it together. Encourage the young graduate to comment on the ceremony and/or perform his/her part for you.
- Use the graduation photos and others from the school year to create a power point or scrapbook. Your children will not only benefit from this special time together, but from acquiring digital skills as well.
- Find a way to celebrate together as a family. Discuss different appropriate options and allow the graduate to choose.
Bottom line, find a way to acknowledge the occasion that respects and caters to the needs of the different family members, so that no one feels either coerced to do something they are uncomfortable with or left out.
So, what are you going to do next time you’re asked to attend?
Dr. Judy Yaron
Dr. Judy Yaron comes to you with both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in raising kids: a PhD in Educational Leadership and a teaching career that spreads over forty years and three continents. Dr. Yaron can say that she is proud of her kids and where they are in their own life journeys; she believes that leadership starts at home and runs a leadership program for parents and kids. Find out more about Dr Judy at www.Time2Lead.Club and follow Dr Judy on Twitter @time2leadclub.