It’s a heartbreaking moment when your teenager announces that they are dropping out of high school. No matter what their reason is, it’s a moment every parent hopes and prays will never happen and most don’t know how to react to when it does.
High school drop outs create a very difficult position for themselves in life. Without a high school education, their employment options are severely limited. They can’t even join the armed forces.
What is a parents supposed to do? In some states a minor can not drop out of high school without parental consent, and refusal to go makes them truant which comes with a heap of court costs and fines, for the parent. So while your child is exercising his movement and refusing to go to school every morning you are racking up quite a tidy sum in fines that ultimately you are responsible for paying.
Some states require that the child maintain a job during the years that he normally would have been in high school. But the law does not create character, and the law will not be there when your smart child potentially condemns himself to minimum wage jobs and great difficulty getting ahead.
Naturally, the very first thing you are going to want to do is convince him otherwise. Start by finding out why he wants to drop out. Often the motivator is a solvable issue if that child would just explain what’s going on instead of packing it in. Are they in over their head academically? Is there a complex social issue that is inhibiting his ability to feel safe? The things that kids have to deal with in high school are tremendously taxing and an overwhelmed student can readily convince himself that dropping out is the better method.
Nobody wants to be a dropout. There is shame and embarrassment that comes along with it. Dropping out is copping out and nobody wants to be considered weak. Therefore, there must be a very strong motivator for any child who wants to walk down this path. Check outside influences. Are they hanging with a crowd that is pushing them to stay home, run with them, and be their man of the hour? If so, then there’s a bigger problem than whether or not he goes to school, and this problem requires quite the intervention as gang related drop outs are common within the first six to nine months of joining a gang.
Dropping out is not just an inner city problem. It affects small towns, rural areas, affluent families and the poverty stricken. Regardless of background, a kid can become overwhelmed and feel as though the best thing to do is go somewhere and start over. Some schools will send a social worker to the home to try to determine what the problem is and hopefully find a solution.
Even if you can’t determine what the motivating factor is, ask your child if they want to try transferring to another school. This may become complicated if the child has a history of detentions and suspensions on his record. However some children who are resistant to following through on their education may purposely receive out of school suspensions or even be heading toward expulsion to get what they think they want.
What many parents and students don’t realize is that if the child resists all attempts to influence their decision and he drops out of high school, all is not lost. Provided that the child is a resident of the county, other high schools will let him re-attend until he is twenty one. Some community colleges only require a placement test upon entry and will accept an individual without a high school diploma. Sooner or later every drop out realizes their mistake. Once they have dropped out a parent needs to encourage them to go back all the way through their twenty first birthday, helping them understand that their doors have not yet been slammed. Depending on their age they may have a couple of years to grasp the error of their ways and if they realize they have other options, they have an avenue to correct the errors.
Dropping out of high school is ultimately a last resort, and most kid who end up doing so are really just looking for a break, a way to start fresh and redefine themselves and get away from all that is bogging them down. Finding a solution to that problem will eliminate the issues with his education and he will be able to return to the remainder of his childhood.
Not all children that drop out of high school are condemned to become failures and hopelessly lazy individuals. There are a plethora of successful individuals out there who dropped out and still created something out of their lives, your author included. Dropping out is an act of desperation for everyone who walks down that path, and adults who can help the child find a better alternative are the ones who understand that most of the time, the actual education is not the problem.
Those of us who did drop out yet didn’t give up on life had to take the longer, harder road toward success. I went to college without my high school diploma, and was eventually granted the diploma, as I had enough credits to graduate. Something as simple as knowing that I had already completed the task but was still condemned to a school I hated was enough for me. Thankfully I still had someone encouraging me that success was still possible.
Any time we give up on a child we give up on their future. Even if they choose to give up on themselves we as adults need to drive them forward anyway, nudging them toward better options and more creative options and helping them sort through the issues presented to them in a more responsible manner. Nobody wants to be a high school drop out.