Things constantly change no matter how strong and specific you think your plans are. Many times those changes are very unexpected.
After completing one year of college, our youngest son decided this summer to join the military; specifically the Marines. We weren’t expecting this change in plans but really shouldn’t be surprised. My husband was in the military at the same age of our son and I’m from a military family.
There’s a lot of advice out there on the best ways to prepare teens for adulthood after high school. The majority of the guidance relates to college. The information can be overwhelming and includes a huge push from the education system: You must get into a “good” school. You must score as high as possible on the SAT and ACT for this to happen. You must have a college degree to get anywhere in life.
Is this true for everyone?
Moms want the best our children. We want them to succeed in life. I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent but made sure my sons were involved in activities such as sports and volunteering.
I worried about them hanging around the wrong crowd (negative influences) and wanted them to discover a purpose through their interests. It’s not just about following a passion.
After high school graduation, our youngest decided to try the college route too. The school counselors helped him get an academic scholarship. 90% of tuition was paid for and he did well academically his first year. But the regular college experience just isn’t for him and I’ve accepted that.
My son admired and looked up to his grandfather (my stepfather) who was retired military. My step-dad, Jean-Luc, was a West Point graduate, Special Forces officer, and Military Attache in Africa. He made a positive impact with everyone, especially his grandchildren. He had an unassuming nature, expressed empathy, didn’t hesitate to help out, and was very accommodating to others. A great role model for our country.
We went on a few trips this summer with Jacob before he leaves for boot camp, to include a West Point visit where Grandpa went. The bonus was having a personal tour on a Sunday by a West Point instructor. My son was truly engaged in that moment. He bonded with the Captain who took time out of his personal day to accommodate us.
Being in the Marines requires a lot of mental and physical strength. So what is he actually doing to prep? He has the right attitude to start and asked me for guidance. I know, right?
He’s eating cleaner (mostly veggies and lean protein) and going to bed before 10pm. Getting enough rest to make sure his immune system is in top shape is critical. His body will be pushed to its limits for 13 weeks.
Knowing that he finally understands the importance of rest and “you are what you eat” makes his mom feel better anyway.
Now the reality is almost here. Our youngest son leaves for Marine Boot Camp in Parris Island on Monday, September 11th. I’m sure grandpa would be proud. And this mom is too.
As a parent, it’s important to remember to step back and let them live. They will find their own path and purpose.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com