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Aaron Johnson: ‘Tis the graduation season

It is graduation season. Social media is saturated with photos of new graduates from every institution of learning.

Some of these graduates have so many colored ropes draped over their shoulders they can barely turn their heads. Others are just happy to get school behind them.

Some of them are going off to a university to blow their parents’ money. Others are off to a trade school and others to the military.

My high school graduation was in 1978. Time gives perspective.

I wish someone would have spoken at my graduation and said:

  • Keep the Beta Club members close and never lose their contact information. They make great employees for all the solid “C” students who worked in high school.
  • All those awards and multi-colored ropes around your neck won’t win one battle tomorrow.
  • Some of you have already had the best days of your life.
  • Show me your friends and I will show you your future.
  • Never fear failure. Failure is not fatal, quitting is.
  • Never compare yourself to anyone else. Strive to become a better version of who you were yesterday.

I could go on but you don’t have the time.

The thing that impresses me is not the academic awards or athletic achievements. I am impressed by the kid who holds it together with little or no help. The kids who learn to work for what they have and demonstrate respect. I love the kid who tries and fails and tries again.

Over the years, parents’ role in educating their children has shifted with each generation.

Generations ago, school taught the bare basics and the parents did the rest. Today, most parents either take a hands-off approach leaving all the education and parenting to the teachers, or they become snowplow parents.

These parents have replaced the helicopter parents who hovered over their children. This new generation of hyper-involved parents act like snowplows for their children. They will not allow anything to stand in the way of their child excelling in all aspects of life.

The problem with snowplow parents is that they never allow their children to fail at anything. They leave high school with a trophy case filled with awards their parents earned for them, and head off to college with the same expectations.

With the dual security blankets of academic freedom and tenure, professors don’t really care who your parents are. A parking lot for snowplows should be on the outskirts of every four-year university.

Failure is the only thing that really teaches us who we are. I don’t recall learning a single thing from my successes in life. However, every failure has forced me to reflect over the defeat, re-engineer some aspect of my life, and learn from it.

Then on to the next battle.

I firmly believe that success in life is determined by how many difficulties you overcome.

For all the kids who chose to serve in the military: I salute you! You will learn more about life, people, and yourself by the end of boot camp than your classmates will after a four-year degree, crammed into six years, a summer in Europe, and $100,000 debt.

Aaron Johnson is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. He is pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.

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