difficult child Update - Dropping Out of School

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lynnp, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. lynnp

    lynnp New Member

    Hi everyone, I haven't posted for a while. I received a lot of help last Christmas when my son left home for four days. Since then my husband and I have been in counseling trying to help him and I've continued to lurk on this list and, as always, appreciate your experience. difficult child is 16 and skateboarding is his life. He's convinced that he is good enough to become a pro-skater and, while it's not entirely impossible, our family doesn't have the means to more to CA or FL or even to an urban area that would faciliate that career choice. He made it through his 10th grade year although just barely. Two months ago he decided rather than droppoing out of school he would graduate early. We spent a lot of time working on a schedule so that could happen. He tried taking an adult ed math class this summer that would have helped graduate early but with a challenging teacher who didn't really teach (more of an independent study) it only cemented his belief that he is stupid and "not a school kid." He's currently determined to drop out of school. What next? There is not a rational bone in his body at this point. Do we let him become homeless? Try to help him skate? Natural consequences? While drugs are not out of the question we really don't believe they are the major factor in this decision, rather, it's his own belief in his abilities combined with a horrible work ethic. My husband and I are exhausted and completely at a loss. We love our therapist but we can use all the help we can get. Do any of you have children who have dropped out? What did life look like in Sept.? Did you keep them home? Kick them out? I can't imagine he'll get a job we live in a rural area and he will be competing with jobless college studetns. Thoughts? Ideas? Thank you.
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    I watched a neighbor family 'allow' this with their child. My current neighbor is in a similar situation because his son was kicked out of school for various reasons. The kid would act out on occasion and this caused school issues. in my opinion the boy is a victim of his own circumstances - he has a difficult child mother and undiagnosed learning/behavioral disabilities.

    in my opinion it is appalling that a child is allowed to drop out of school WITHOUT parental consent, but parents are still responsible for that child until they are 18. Again a case of politicians making rules that make no practical sense whatsoever.

    I am not even close to where you are in raising kids, and pray that I am not confronted with HS dropping out issues, but my current opinion is that if you are not going to school, or you are not working, you are not living in my home. I'm already prepping my son with this mantra for AFTER HS. But believe this should also apply for HS aged kids. How to enforce it, I have no clue. I would investigate what options that you have for placement of your son. The most extreme options would be for your son to emancipate himself or you to give up your parental rights. Yes, these are EXTREME, and I hope you can find something, some resource that is more of a middle ground.

    ((((HUGS))))) positive thoughts of strength out to you in dealing with this.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you are in a unique situation. Well probably not unique but kinda. I know school is so horribly difficult for some if not most of our kids. Look up something called K12 program or something like that. If you can find it, it is some sort of homeschooling program that can be done along with the schools I believe...or...find out if your school offers an online school...that might work better. I would think maybe with online he could work faster and get out faster?

    I know I was a complete difficult child as a teen and I did quit school when I was in 11th grade because...oh heck I dont remember but it probably had something to do with me not wanting to have anyone tell me what to do...lol. But my parents told me the whole go to school or go to work full time and I got a job working as a hostess in less than a week but I learned by my first paycheck that I didnt like standing on my feet all day showing customers to their tables. LOL. 40 hours of that and I was back in school.
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Based on your profession I would imagine this is really a painful decision to make. in my humble opinion, if you are thoroughly convinced that substances are not determining his goal perhaps you should consider having him earn his GED and forget the school fight. This is contrary to my natural instinct but I did have a nephew that literally hated high school. He was a bright kid but insisted that he did not want to stay in school. He was told he had to at least earn his GED which he easily did. Subsequently, he managed to become very very successful. Now he has sons in college and regrets that he did not follow the normal path but...he has attained his goals which were success and a family of his own. I don't know anything about skating but based on that experience I know that "some" kids really need an alternative path. I am sending you supportive thoughts. Only you and your husband can make such a huge decision and I wish you well. DDD
  5. lynnp

    lynnp New Member

    Thanks for your replies! Yes, the fact that I have spent the last 29 years helping kids graduate from high school and go to college has not helped all this. If he were going to pick one thing....this would definitely be it! Ultimatums (like job vs. school), we are afraid, will lead to homelessness. There is not much work up here and he is so headstrong we fear he would leave. He has threatened to hitchhike to FL and live in a tent. I do appreciate your thoughts around alternative ways to complete school. He could get his GED, go to adult ed. classes etc. and maybe that's what he'll end up doing. In the meantime though, what does life look like at home? Clearly, it's not going to help him become a pro-skater because he will have to get a job to earn some money. We do want to support him in his skating though, at least somewhat but it sure doesn't feel great when he's not in school. He doesn't seem to understand that with a 10th grade education no one will hire him! He's driving in right now so I'll go. Thank you for all of your support, you guys do get it...it so nice to know that someone out there does.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I can only tell you what I would do.

    First of all, he'd have to work full time, even if that meant McDonalds, and he'd have to contribute to the household bills as well as buy his own clothes. He'd have no cell phone or car insurance unless he could pay for them. My guess is there is a good chance he IS doing some sort of drugs...skater kids are prone to doing it. I feel it is unrealistic for him to believe that he can make a living as a skater and, if it were me, I wouldn't discourage it but I wouldn't encourage it either. My daughter is great at sports, but, realistically, she probably can't even make a college team because somebody is always better.

    I would not make dropping out of school in any way comfortable. I think I'd probably calmly say, "If you don't want to go to school, then you are going to have adult responsibilities or else you won't have anything other than the bare necessities."

    If he is willing to homeschool I would consider that going to school as long as he tries. My oldest daughter homeschooled her two last years of high school and went on to tech school and eventually college. However, when she got into trouble, we took away her car keys and insurance and cell phone. She paid for almost everything herself, because she was using drugs, was too young to throw out of the house, and too old for us to support while she spent a few hours a day on schoolwork while she slept the rest of the day. She quit drugs and got her life together and is a productive 27 year old who has a career. I think being tough on her helped. She thinks so too. She was also adopted.

    I wish you luck. Keep us posted.
  7. orlandog

    orlandog New Member

    it must really be difficult to handle a difficult child especially if he or she was your kid, sometimes a parent wouldn't want to feel like giving up on difficult child but action must really be done and difficult child has to choose sooner or later, its his life at stake after all and as a parent we really would want them to have a better chance at life even though we know it is a challenge, believing in your difficult child's positive side and his/her potential will help him/her be optimistic as well. It is never too late to be able to out things to proper perspective, one just have to realize the priorities he/she has in life and work on it.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know there are some kids who are really good skaters and are not into the drug scene. They want to be the next Xgames stars. You cant do that if you are stoned. If he is actually that good, maybe there is a way to combine this. Can you build one of those things in your back yard? I dont know what they are called but I know one when I see it...lol. Can he have going to a skater camp be a goal if he does school? Is there some sort of local competitions that he could compete in to get that thrill satisfied? If so, go for it. Hey, you live in the north, can he snowboard too?
  9. lynnp

    lynnp New Member

    Yes, he is a really good skater and just won a big competition at a major skateboard camp. UGH. Good and bad I guess. He snowboards too. He's atheletically gifted. In the 9th grade was one of the fastest freshmen in the state in cross country. He doesn't seem to want that success though. Any kind of positivie feedback usually makes things worse for him. I'm having a HUGE amount of trouble letting go of the fact that he is just not rational. Logic doesn't work with him, never has. But still, it's just beyond us that he really thinks he can be successful with a 10th grade education. Thanks for all of your help, I'll keep you posted!
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'm going back a generation - to my own brother, rather than my kids - but for some kids, they really aren't ready for the pressures of "high school". They don't have the maturity to stick it out, to go through the process. And HE ended up with a MASTER'S degree. Got his minimum requirements to start University as a "mature adult"... and took the Dean's Medal on his first degree. So, dropping out NOW does not equal guaranteed failure in life.

    Rule #1 is, there is no such thing as "free board and room". You are either:
    A) studying something formal (homeschool, night-school, in "school", whatever), OR
    B) working, OR
    C) majorly pitching in around the house... cutting grass, washing windows, vacuuming, cooking, cleaning, etc.

    In our house, you were allowed to combine stuff... so, working 10 hours/week (.25 FTE), and taking 2 upgrading classes (.4 FTE) meant you had to add a .35 FTE (or about 14 hours a week) of "helping" (on top of basic "everybody does something" chores - loading the dishwasher doesn't count, for example).
    I did .8 school and .2 housework (worked out better than trying to manage a full load). Bro did .5 working and .5 helping. That was fine too. But everybody put in 40 hours a week of WORK at "something".

    As far as working... is there anything even remotely skateboard-related around? like a skateboard shop? They might hire him, even part-time - he would at least be in his area of interest AND be learning a bit about "real life".