Giving Thanks Beyond November

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December! The rush of the fall is almost completely behind us. Aside from all of the practices, games, classes, and assignments, your student has also completed the gauntlet of applying to secondary school. You have watched your child attend shadow days, complete applications, endure test prep classes and take at least one official test. More likely, you and many others have done more than just watch this happen. You have helped your child complete these steps, provide gentle reminders of deadlines and not-so-gentle reminders to study and practice. As you may have already shared with your son or daughter, this point in the process gives us the opportunity to help our student and high-schooler to take another step toward successful independence. Regardless of your innate and self-developed talents, let's recognize that others have helped us in this process and formally thank them.

Your family may already have established traditions of sharing gratitude: a heartfelt word, a phone call, a handwritten note. We want to encourage our students to reach out to the individuals who helped get them through this process. Of course, there are the members of the school community we should thank: the student who guided us, the vice principal who interviewed us, and the admissions staff who answered our questions. Let us not forget the members of our own team who helped. The math teacher who gave her a recommendation. The coach who let him miss a practice or show up late. The relative or colleague who may have proofread an essay or held a mock interview. Hopefully, mentioning these reminders will encourage the student to remember mom and dad as well, but one step at a time.

A final note in crafting your thank you. Though there is nothing wrong with a handwritten note, you may want to consider an email response as well or instead of the traditional card. A handwritten card certainly adds a level of gravitas or heft to the process. “I am thanking you.”  However, an electronic mail response helps leave the door open to foster a relationship with the other party. The recipient can send a mail reply as well, of course, but an electronic option may make it just a bit easier for the party to respond and leave the door open for future connection. Perhaps he or she will hear of an internship or job you may enjoy. Maybe they’ll have friends who can provide college insight when the time comes. 

Choose the method which reflects your family’s style and values. Perhaps you can use different methods for different people, or let mom and dad handle the cards, and proof junior’s emails. In either case, having your student be mindful of his or her responsibility to acknowledge others or taking the opportunity to do genuine good is the most important element.

Finally, thank you, parents. Thank you for listening to your children, and seeing and valuing them for who they are. Thank you for your unconditional support and tireless advocacy. Thank you for driving them and feeding them and helping them be their best. Thank you for ushering them into the world where we can enjoy their company.