Monday, May 26, 2014

What My Son Is NOT Getting for 5th Grade Graduation

Tomorrow is my 11 year old's graduation ceremony.

From 5th Grade! 

It is so hard to believe that his elementary school days are over!

My husband and I are so proud of the great job he's done these 6 years of kindergarten through 5th grades!

We really could not have asked for better.  He has excelled with both his grades and also what we always stress is more important, his behavior and character displayed at school.

But, still.

I'm having a little trouble getting on board with ALL THE FANFARE modern society seems to now put on 5th grade graduation.

Maybe it is just where we live, but it has been turned into a WAY bigger deal than when I graduated from 5th grade.

There is no shortage of parties and special things and the graduation ceremony itself is at the local high school.

And then there is the idea of a graduation gift.  Again, just to be clear we're talking elementary school, not high school graduation, here!

I'm left feeling that the hoopla around 5th Grade Graduation is much like the birthday party goodie bag, something ridiculously unnecessary that modern parents have invented to help our kids feel special, but in reality only makes our kids feel entitled.

I've seen it so many times I can't even count, even in my own children, they have played for 2 hours at the party place complete with multiple bouncy houses, they were fed pizza and cupcakes only to ask "Where's my goodie bag?" at the end of the party.  And then we parents are embarrassed by how ungrateful our children are, but we have made them that way.  We have followed along with modern society and over-catered to our children.  It is so hard to push back against the tide of our society!  I struggle all the time and am always questioning the right parenting move.

As my husband and I mulled over the idea of a 5th Grade Graduation gift, a thing many parents seem to do in a big way, I couldn't help but think about kids in Ethiopia who walk over an hour each way in worn out shoes to attend school.  They will never have a 5th grade graduation to celebrate their achievement making it through the lower grades!  They are just thrilled with the opportunity to go and learn!  Yet my American kid with his Nike running shoes who was driven in a car and dropped off at the door to his school each day carrying a homemade, nutritious lunch complete with a dessert and a little note from his mom, deserves all manner of celebration and parties and a gift for successfully completing grades kinder through 5th?!!

I know what my 11 year old son would love to get for his 5th grade graduation:

But, that is the thing he is definitely NOT getting!

And, yes, I'm aware that ALL the kids in his 5th grade class already have iphones because my son has told me.

But, we are not at all ready to go there.

Giving a kid an iphone unleashes not only the cell phone privilege/responsibility, but also, the Internet, a camera, texting, email, video games, etc., etc. -- all things that are hard for even adults to use and manage responsibly, much less a preteen!  And, yes, I know you can turn off/disable/monitor all those features on your kid's phone because other parents have told me elaborate things about what they do, but I just keep saying, "The teenager is always going to be smarter than me at the technology!  There is no way to completely monitor that device once I give it to them!"

Even though it is not the popular answer, I know beyond any doubt that the best thing for my kid is NOT to have an iphone and not to get an over-the-top 5th grade graduation gift.  I also know it's only going to get harder, this living counter-culturally as our kids rapidly approach the teen years.  But we are praying that as we help them navigate the relatively small world that is public middle school while staying true to who God created them to be rather than what the world would have them be, that when they grow up and enter the big, real world, they will have the confidence to stand strong even when they are calling their own shots and buying their own iphones!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Update: Find out what my son DID get for 5th grade graduation here


  1. It certainly is crazy what kids today are getting and expecting. Good for you for not caving into today's society. Your kids seem very well grounded.

  2. Love this. Sometimes it feels like ALL the parents really are doing extravagant things, like huge gifts for graduations. It is so wonderful to read that there are families out their like ours. Keep posting, mama, it's helping!! :)


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