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What should parents do if their children want to drop out of school?

by annep (follow)
Parenting (216)      Family (309)      Education (92)      Advice (63)     
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Being a parent is not an easy job. What would you do if your child told you they planned to drop out despite all the dreams and expectations you have for them?

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Parents have to remember that kids are people too, with their own hopes and dreams and path to lead. As a parent, you can help your child get ready for the world, but you really can't pick their path for them. If my child came to me and said he wanted to drop out, I would find out why. It could be a problem at school they're trying to avoid - which could perhaps be solved another way. I'd find out what they really want to do if they drop out, and if that is the way it's going to go, help them to make a plan based on their own dreams, talents and abilities (it's fine to want your kid to be a doctor, but what if they're just not going to get the marks required, the pressure would be horrible on them).

If you don't talk to them about it as the young adults they are becoming, you risk losing them altogether as they try to forge their own path anyway, or have them hating you for pushing them into a career that they don't want.
You have my vote, well said.
by jonaja
I absolutely agree with every word of what Sarah has written. Having a heart-to-heart chat with the child is really important. Maybe it's due to external factors that the child wants to drop out of school. I would really want to know the reasons, and then try to help remove those reasons. If despite all my efforts, the child still wants to make that decision, I would take a step back and support them through their decision, hoping that they will steer in the right direction nonetheless.
It depends. For some kids, dropping out of school is the right choice. If they're 16 and looking to do a trade or apprenticeship or something and don't do well in a school environment then that might be a good thing. If they're just unhappy at school because of bullying or for some other reason then that's something to talk through and try to find a solution for.
I agree with Sarah too. It's tough for kids these days, they are expected to make career path choices at such a young age and for some, the plan just doesn't work. Uni and study aren't the only solutions for a fulfilling career - there's more than one way to skin a cat! We need to be careful not to put so much pressure on our kids that they feel like a failure. And I'm speaking from experience! They need support, encouragement and a good dose of understanding.
Like everyone else here has suggested, I think that it would be important for parents to discuss this thoroughly with their kids, if they really didn't want to continue on in school. Whatever young adults choose to do in their lives, I think it's crucial that they know they've always got their parents' love and unconditional support and mentoring.

Kids in Australia today are SO fortunate, also, since there are so many educational and life options available to them, and also that there is a growing understanding that education can be a lifelong journey...not just something that you cram, half-heartedly, into your life before you're 25. For example, just because a young person drops out of high school doesn't mean that they'll never go back to study. They might just want some time out for a year or two to reflect on their life and where they're going. I've met many young people who've done this, and they all claim that the break gave them added clarity, self-knowledge, maturity and determination.

Although academic education is so intellectually enriching and opens the doors to a huge range of fascinating career paths it's not the 'be all and end all' of life...as some narrow-minded educators and parents present it to be. Like Jennifer said, some kids simply aren't academically inclined and would be much happier dropping out of school and learning a trade. With others, maybe they need to travel and learn more about the world we live in. In my opinion, world travel is often the best education, as we leave behind our comfort zones and all that is familiar in order to learn more about ourselves and others.

Back to the question, though. As others have pointed out, we're all individuals, with our own desires, dreams and personalities, and parents need to be aware of this in order to maturely mentor their young adult offspring to be the best, most loving people they can be. Our own dreams and expectations should not come into this. Always remember that success in life doesn't necessarily translate into academic 'success'. As parents we need to acknowledge our children are unique individuals who are on their own life journey, We cannot plan and orchestrate their lives for them. There are so many people in the big wide world who hate their lives and careers, and unfortunately even some high-flyers who have dutifully fulfilled their own parents' dreams and expectations for them, fall into this category. Let's not condemn our children to a life like that.
I would try to discourage them from doing this, however my main aim is for children to be happy in whatever they are doing, and being at school does not guarantee a future happiness in a career, so I would not make a fuss as it is what THEY want to do after all.

It is THEIR life and not mine so I do not think, other than suggesting and pointing out the pros, that I have a right to try to force a teenager to do anything like this.
by Finy
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