This is going to be a different kind of week in the Baird household. On Wednesday my wife, Michele, and my son, Taylor, will head to the airport. When they land in Chicago, my son begins a new phase in his life – college. My wife will undoubtedly shed a few tears as she says goodbye, but both of us are more than confident in my son’s ability to handle this new adventure.
That said, there are many things I hope my son to hear from me as he takes this big step in to his own life. These are things I think every child ought to know from their parents as they head to college.
Here are 7 (plus one):
I love you.
My son knows this. I’ve tried since the day he was born to communicate this constantly. Now, as he more and more begins making his own decisions (often completely independent of my input) I want him to know and believe that nothing he can do – good or bad, right or wrong – will ever affect my love for him.
I am proud of you.
There are so many things about my son for which I’m proud.
What he’s done – he’s accomplished many things in his short 19 years, from earning the highest honor as a senior in high school, to spending 4 months in Africa by himself, to successfully completing his EMT licensing. And so many other things along the way.
Who he is – a man of character and conviction, a serious thinker with a serious sense of humor, and tenderhearted gentleman with a strong man of purpose.
Be who he is and do what he does and my pride will continue to grow.
I admire you.
The last couple of years have been an interesting journey for me, as I’ve gone from guide and teacher to friend and counselor. Along the way, my son turned from little boy who I liked to young man that I admire (and still like!).
Taylor has characteristics that I wish I had, goals that I wish I’d thought of, and traits that I hope to emulate.
I admire Taylor immensely!
I believe in you.
Yes, I believe in him thoroughly and I can’t wait to see what God does in his life and through his life. Sure, he will make mistakes. Some will be big mistakes.
But I am confident. I am confident that his life will count. Count for good and count for God.
I trust you.
As a Dad who has been used to making all the decisions, this one is a bit of a challenge. I’ve actively tried to let go of my role in this area over the past few years, trying to give Taylor more and more responsibility. He’s done magnificent, including spending those 4 months in Africa where he had to make decisions that involved his safety (and those of others), his finances, and his character, among other things.
He has proven trustworthy and I can’t begin to describe the sense of peace this brings to me as he heads to college.
I release you.
If trusting him is hard, releasing him is near impossible! No, I’m not pushing him away. And no, I don’t want him to never return home. Quite the opposite! I want him here with us and engaged with our lives more than ever!
But it’s time for him to begin navigating his own life. We (Michele & I) will always be here.
Ready to respond.
Ready to offer words of encouragement and advice.
Ready to open our home.
Ready to assist in anything Taylor needs to the best of our ability.
But I release him to chart his own course, to make his own way, to pursue his own dreams.
I expect you…
To love God and love others.
To pursue the work that God gives you with all your heart.
To live a life that matters.
Expectations in our home have always been high. We’ve tried not to be rigid or to focus on “matters that don’t matter” (does it really matter if a kid gets straight A’s in 5th grade???), but rather focus on areas of character and value.
Taylor has met and continues to meet every expectation along the way.
I expect him to continue to meet those expectations, not for my sake, but for his. And I expect him to have high expectations for and of himself in the things that matter most.
And one more thing…
I will pray for you.
I believe, with all my heart, that my life has unfolded in such a blessed manner because my Mom & Dad pray for me. I sincerely doubt a day has gone by that I haven’t been prayed for.
And I will do the same for Taylor. I may not have the day to day influence in his life that I’ve always had. But I still have influence. And I believe that I can still move the hand of God on his behalf.
And I will.
These are 7 phrases I want my son to hear and believe as he heads to college.
What would you add?