Now let’s fast-forward 10 or 12 years. Your adored daughter has turned into a stranger. You don’t recognize the hair color, the black finger-nails or the attitude. One day, she comes home and tells you she’s dropping out of high school. She’s reached the age at which she can do this without your consent. And you are crying again.
Fortunately, you still love your child! And your actions now need to focus on your love, not your anger and sorrow. Believe me, the love lasts. The other feelings don’t. Your job in the next year or even two years is to think and act for her in her best interest. As with most undertakings, your best weapon is your own knowledge. Give yourself some homework. Your state has rules and laws relating to education, and your county may as well.
Go online. If you aren’t a person who knows how to go online, learn. In the meantime, go to your local library if you aren’t comfortable online. Educate yourself and find out what the options are.
In one case, I know a mom who withdrew her daughter from school in order to save a so-far excellent Grade Point Average (GPA). The daughter wasn’t attending school, and her grades were really in jeopardy. When mother and daughter were able to re-connect and work together several months later, the daughter was enrolled in an alternative high school—from which she graduated first in her class and went on to an excellent college. If the mother had not quickly educated herself about the options, she would not have known to withdraw her daughter from public high school. And her daughter’s future could have been significantly different. Frankly, it also made a tremendous impression on the daughter to find she had been withdrawn from school. What a wake-up call!
In another case, parents did have to come to terms with a life-style and values which were not their own. Their son dropped out of school and married at 17 to his pregnant girlfriend. His parents were professional people with advanced degrees. This young man was a hands-on craftsman who knew what he wanted, and it wasn’t his parents’ lifestyle. He wanted an artisan’s career and a family. His parents wisely learned about apprentice programs in their area and assisted their son in entering a school which seemed relevant to him, if not to them. They were able to preserve the relationship and are today enjoying their grandson. And they had no idea Journeymen made that much money!
The key, Mom and Dad, is to realize that you may not be in control any more. Listen to your child. But you don’t need to cave in to abusive behavior, substance abuse, or financial draining from your child. You do, however, need to recognize that your ideas are not the only valid ideas. Maintain the relationship. Keep the channels of communication open. And enjoy your child, whoever she is!