You Are Not Responsible For Your Child’s Future.
The first day of school has come and gone, and this year I didn’t even do the traditional “first day of school pics.” I mean, I would have, but both my fifteen and sixteen year old just barely rolled their asses out of bed in time to brush their teeth…but then, we are talking about two teenage boys that only wanted to attend the first day of school to “stunt in their new, fresh fits.” 🙄
My boys are now teenagers, just a few short years away from being grown men and, as I recount the years leading up to their sophomore and junior years, I’m reminded of my own.
I guess for me, it started when I was in middle school. My family would often remind me that it was time that I start thinking about my future, what I wanted to be when I grew up, and how I would get there. I find myself reminding my children of the same things, but adding that they have only six months, post high school graduation, to figure out their immediate future before they must vacate my premises.
To many of you, that sounds cruel, but to me, it means I’ve raised my children to be independent men and productive members of society. THAT’S my job. Nothing more, nothing less. Not being an enabler doesn’t mean I won’t still be their mother and number one supporter. It just means I do not have to be in their personal space. They can fight their own battles, pay their own bills (hopefully, ha!) and take their own paths, even if it doesn’t include the path I chose, or the path I’d like for them to choose. I’ll be there, however, cheering them on, *especially* if it’s the road less traveled.
That is why, when my children told me they have no plans to go to college, not only was I appreciative of their honesty, I was, and am completely okay with it, because they know, and I know, that there are other options — trade school, military, travel, or entering the workforce, for example. Since my job does not include paying for a college education they’re not interested in, it works out. Besides, this is their life journey… their path we’re talking about, not mine or yours, and quite honestly, none of us are in any way qualified to determine someone else’s future.
I get aggravated when others preach college to my kids for those very reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for the kids that decide for themselves that college is the right path for them, then take it by the balls, but the truth is, college isn’t for everyone, and I realize this.
I’m not crazy for not pushing my children into college. Here’s the thing. I often see parents that care more about their child’s education than their child does. I’ve watched those same parents (and others) make themselves crazy, drowning in paperwork, because of tight deadlines for scholarships, grants, financial aide, (I won’t even get started on college tuition!) etc., while the child is busy helping with… mmmmm… nothing. At this point, you’ve earned the title “student” moreso than your child, and I’m betting you probably feel more accomplished, too. That’s not a compliment.
I get it. We want our children to be successful, so we convince them (and ourselves) that college is the only option, then take on those responsibilities ourselves to make sure everything is done in time. I should rephrase. Some of you take on those responsibilities. I certainly don’t and won’t, and I just can’t help but think to myself ‘how many of those children actually make it to graduation?’
Maybe I’m a bad mom… or maybe, just maybe I’m allowing my children to choose the path that they feel will make them the most successful and happy, even if it doesn’t include going to college. Maybe, just maybe, I refuse to do the work for them so that they can appreciate and value their own success(es) that much more. Maybe I believe if they do the work it takes to reach that success, even if it’s just completing their own paperwork, it’ll mean that they want it as much, if not more than I do. (Besides, I FUCKING DREAD paperwork, so it’s a bonus!) What I won’t do, though, is drive myself crazy fighting someone else’s deadlines, for children that have zero interest in attending a single day of college, even to just show off their first day fresh fits.
So, maybe I’m not a bad mom after all. Maybe my children will go to the military, travel the world, decide on trade school, or maybe they’ll enter the workforce. Whatever they decide, they know they’re responsible for the work it takes to get there, and that I’ll be on the sidelines, front row, with my pom poms.