Among the ubiquitous joys and challenges of parenting is discipline. With every child God creates and entrusts to the care of his or her parents there is the inherent expectation that the parents will do whatever is necessary to train their children to be wise, productive, and above all, God-honoring. After hearing about the irresponsible behavior of some parents at their children’s graduations it seems clear; someone needs to train the parents.
God placed the nurturing instinct within all parents so that no healthy parent has to be told to feed and care for their child. Neither do parents have to be reminded that their child is dependent upon their training to learn everything from walking, talking, and tying their shoes to how to behave in public and make wise decisions. It is obvious that when some parents were children they “skipped school” when the class on common sense was offered.
Many of you were at graduation ceremonies recently. They are some of the most significant events in a person’s life. I still have a vivid memory of my graduation from high school. In some ways, it was more emotional and meaningful to me than when I graduated from college and seminary. It is a major milestone, the first of many, to be sure, but extremely important nonetheless.
Emotions are high for students and parents alike. Great sacrifices have been made by many families to see this day and every family has overcome obstacles to help their child receive their diploma. I cried when my children graduated. I love them so deeply that only other parents could understand. But, I held my applause and cheers until after the diplomas had been awarded.
It is understandable that there is a flood of emotions that washes over parents when their children’s names are called. It is natural for a parent to feel the urge to cheer, clap, shout, and cry as soon as they hear their child’s name.
As one would expect, there is a pretty good probability that there is more than one graduate receiving his or her sheepskin. Depending on the size of the school there could be anywhere from dozens to thousands of parents sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the moment – the proud moment when they hear the name of their boy or girl.
This being true, it makes perfectly good sense to hold applause and cheers to the end so that other parents will not miss the moment for which every parent is waiting – the announcement of their child’s name.
Well, it makes sense to me. Apparently, it doesn’t to some.
For example, consider the mother in Florence, South Carolina who was arrested for defying the stated request to hold applause until after all graduates have received their diplomas. She said, “I’m thinking in my mind [which, by the way, is where most of us do our thinking], no, I’m a cheer [sic], because, you know, I went through too much to get her to this point and I can’t show my excitement?”
Obviously, this woman is under the impression that she went through more than other parents and her child is more important than others graduating that evening. Clearly her motto is, “It’s all about me!”
Then in Mount Healthy, Ohio, a graduate’s diploma is being withheld until either he or his family do 20 hours of community service because of “excessive cheering at graduation.”
Anderson Cooper said that he would “hate to think that cheering at a graduation should be a roadblock to someone moving ahead with their life; maybe even to becoming rich and famous.” This was followed by a video clip of Opra Winfrey cheering from the platform of a graduation.
Then Cooper sarcastically said that perhaps those who want a “subdued, understated graduation could go on to a subdued, understated profession like a state legislator.” The next scene was an assembly of lawmakers with one ranting and cursing. He closed by encouraging parents to cheer on children and beware of the “enthusiasm haters.”
That’s right. A bright, articulate, and educated man like Cooper, no doubt for entertainment and rating purposes, uses his influence to throw his support behind parents who disrupt graduation ceremonies while mocking those who are seeking order in such auspicious occasions. Who knows the number of bright young minds that have been hindered from “moving ahead with their life” or “becoming rich and famous”?
To my knowledge, no school has decreed that cheering may not occur; only that it be reserved until the proper time. There is not even a limit on the decibels that parents may produce in their cheering. They all allow unrestrained enthusiasm without limiting volume or time – perfectly proper – at the proper time.
The underlying problem is the flagrant disregard for authority by those who are supposed to be showing their children how a mature adult should respond to authority.
Cooper suggested that whoever is reading the names simply pause until cheering subsides. I think that is a perfectly practical solution, but that is not the issue. The underlying problem is the flagrant disregard for authority by those who are supposed to be showing their children how a mature adult should respond to authority. If parents want to change the rules that administrators set for graduations there are ways to accomplish it without a rebellion of rudeness.
Graduation ceremonies recognize the students who have completed a portion of their education. Words that are similar to “education” in biblical literature include the words, “teach” and “discipline.” One who is educated has not only been taught and experienced “discipline” in the sense of training, but is also personally disciplined. Clearly, some self-centered, undisciplined parents need to further their “education” for the good of their children.
“He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” Proverbs 10:17