At Mars Venus Coaching we believe that learning comes in waves, of about eight years—at least it’s so for me. So, when I talk to soon-to-be high school graduates, I often ask myself what I wished I knew then, that I know now. As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, or mentors—what wisdom can we give that will be: (1) heard and (2) taken to heart?
First let me address why value-added insight seems to come in waves of every eight years. Then we’ll brainstorm how to impart relevant wisdom to our young birds about to take flight.
We’ll use Dr. John Gray’s interpretation of the developmental stages we all go through. He calls them the ten time periods. Instead of just listing the developmental stages he corresponds the time periods with what he calls love vitamins that help us develop into who we are and what love need that should be met during these time periods so we are able to stay connected to our true selves. So, when talking or filling out high school graduation cards—I get right to the meat—no platitudes here on going after dreams or reaching for the stars. As you read through this, think about whether you received enough of the love vitamins during each of your time periods so far. How can what you say to the high school graduates in your life grow from your own life experiences?
Time Period Love Vitamin Love Need
1. Conception to birth Vitamin G1 God’s love
2. Birth to seven Vitamin P1 Parents’ love
3. Seven to fourteen Vitamin F Family, friends, and fun
4. Fourteen to twenty-one Vitamin P2 Peers and others with similar goals
5. Twenty-one to twenty-eight Vitamin S Self-love
6. Twenty-eight to thirty-five Vitamin R Relationships and romance
7. Thirty-five to forty-two Vitamin D Loving a dependent
8. Forty-two to forty-nine Vitamin C Giving back to community
As you can see from the list above, most high school grads right now have their energy focused on peer approval and support of others who have similar aspirations. Even sharing words of experience with your high schoolers is a challenge. If it is not couched within this frame of reference, or if they’ve missed out on earlier love vitamins of being unconditionally accepted and loved for who they are—mistakes and all—it is really hard for them to hear anything that resembles advice.
Additionally, if they went through their high school years and didn’t get enough love from family and friends, or if they were too focused on doing well and not having enough fun, then they may have a deficiency in Vitamin F.
Similarly, if during their childhood they grew up with one or more absent parents, then they may also be deficient in the P1 category. It doesn’t necessarily mean that both parents were out of the home working, what it gets at is did he/she get enough unconditional love, acceptance, and support from loving adults who gave freely (without conditions). We experience absent-parent syndrome when there is not enough quality time spent reinforcing a child’s self-identity, independence, and exploration within a safety net where the child intuitively knows he/she can express her/his feelings and venture out making mistakes without being reprimanded or told he/she is not allowed. The take away from this is that what’s always important is that we spend quality time with those we love, the amount or quantity is not important.
Basically, throughout the high school years and during college (or while we venture into the workforce), what we are often looking for is to connect with others who are doing similar things to us. We need this both to gain a sense of who we are as individuals, as well as to find our purpose in life. If we miss out during this time period, or we pursue an avenue that we think others want us to pursue rather than where our talents lie, then we may become deficient in Vitamin F, Vitamin P2, or Vitamin S.
So one of the keys when pushing high school graduates out the door off on their own journey of discovery is to make sure they know there is still a soft place to land. That making mistakes is still okay, but now as a young adult the consequences are greater. The responsibility is theirs. That when our high school graduates choose what they want to do and learn over the next couple of years, it is critical for them to choose what they want to do, what they are talented at, not necessarily what the family expects. Therefore, identifying their talent or niche is critical. Choosing what social circles they run in going forward will also be critical to their success.
As we age, we also require more vitamins to stay healthy. When you get into your twenties, it is important to be focused on self-love, so as we explore romance and relationships—we choose our mates wisely. If we’ve had time for self-exploration, and to pursue our talents, then our maturity will be at the same level as our age. If we’re lacking in any of the vitamins, and aren’t on a path to fill the missing love needs, then we’ll tend to repeat familial mistakes, and our growth and that of our children will remain stunted.