What does my kid think when I talk about getting ready for the “real world?”
As my senior year of college recently drew to a close, I realized that high school and college students typically have something very much in common: they are told that they are in the process of preparing to enter “the real world”—hence the classes, the homework, the need for discipline and timeliness, and so on.
Unfortunately, the use of this phrase insinuates that young adults are not yet in the real world. Today, tomorrow, four years of high school, and at least four more years of college conveniently become an opportunity to enjoy this status of unofficially not yet mattering to the rest of the world. I can keep “playing life” until a degree is in my hands. And regarding the days that I choose to say no to the Holy Spirit’s tugs to stop the gossip, sit with the outcast, lovingly correct a friend’s behavior, get off the computer, or simply stop and pray . . . it’s okay to say no this once; I’m just practicing, right?
But then what of those eight-years-worth of real people, real relationships, and real opportunities to say those hard yeses that could draw many souls to heaven? If I’m playing life today, especially in spiritual matters, more than one person is getting the short end of the stick.
One way to prepare our kids for the “real world” after high school is to let them know the blessing and responsibility of mattering in high school. Rather than suggesting that the real world is coming, we need to be reminding them that they are in the real world right now. Their life and the decisions they make can have (and do have) just as much impact on others’ souls and their own today as they will when the bills start rolling in.
(Laura Downey, Theology Teacher, Dowling Catholic High School)