My nephew graduated from high school Sunday. He is 18, excessively intelligent and talented.
Our niece turned 18 and graduated the same month. She is a gifted athlete with no hard plan for what's next.
These are two good, young adults with accomplishments and success stories. How do we, as parents, prepare them for what comes after high school?
Personally, I'm still trying to figure out what comes after high school, and I'm turning 40 this year. With two babies, my life just started — again.
If anything, I think that is the message we should be giving our teens: There is no one answer. Gone are the days when we needed to know "what to do with the rest of our lives." Graduates should take the pressure off themselves to have all the answers.
Just because we turn 18 doesn't mean we have to go to to an expensive university right away. I'm a huge believer in hard work and travel. Go somewhere else in the world. Meet other people. The more we are exposed to other places, other things, the more we learn about ourselves.
Still, college is a great place to learn what's what. Even if it is just a single course for the summer to stay out of trouble, I advise young people to enroll in a junior college. Meet people. Fall in love. Get inspired.
Mostly, though, we should be telling our teens to be themselves, whomever that may be. Let our teens approach this time with excitement, not angst. Love life, don't be afraid of it.
After all, no matter what decision they make today, there will be another choice tomorrow. Like Cheshire cats, we can change our lives many times over. The Internet makes it even easier.
So what's next for graduates? I don't know — let them tell us.