Your child has made it to grade twelve, will be graduating, and has the marks to proceed to post secondary education. You should be happy, but he or she has decided to take a year off from school. Panic might set in. Your thoughts may include the following: if they stop school now, they may never go back; it will be harder to start classes and studying after being away from it for a year; they might not want to give up the job and the money and revert to being a poor student; they will get in with people who are not interested in further education, and will lose interest themselves.
These are all valid points, but it is not fair to generalize to all students. Sometimes these fears set in, and parents try to control the student by making it difficult for them. The stage is set for a power struggle. This does not need to happen.
Let’s look at some guidelines. If the student has generally been responsible throughout high school, it is unlikely that upon graduation they will become totally irresponsible. Remember, that, as parents of these children, we came up through a system that advocated work before play, keeping our nose to the grindstone, working hard and achieving results. Our children have watched our generation get stressed out, burned out, phased out, downsized, or laid off. Many of them are not exactly chomping at the bit to jump into that world. They know that they will have to earn a living, but they want to have a life as well.
It is very difficult to decide what to do after graduation when there are so few guarantees about subsequent employment. It can be a very wise move to work for a year, grow up a little more, and really reflect on your future. This is particularly true if one does not have a burning desire for any particular field. There is also much to be said for continuing with a general education, to see what areas may hold interest.
Not everyone can know with certainty at age 17 or 18, what they want to do with the rest of their lives. If a student chooses to take a year off, it is reasonable to expect that they will work and put money aside for further education, and help out around the house. Parental support during this one year is greatly appreciated, and it works when the agreement is that it is just for the year.
If, on the other hand, as student has not demonstrated a high level of responsibility, and wants a year to pick up where the grad party left off, this is another matter. If they do not want to work, or will work but want to spend freely on fun things, then it is reasonable for parents to discontinue financial support. This could mean either paying rent or moving out.
Once you have graduated, you are an adult. If the choice is to party all night and sleep all day, then it is that person’s responsibility to support that lifestyle themselves. Parents who support this lifestyle are enabling their children to remain irresponsible children. The important thing is to have a clear understanding now, about next year. That way, everyone can make informed choices, and it will save a lot of hassle later on.
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