Hearing your teenager tell you that they want to drop out of school can be frustrating and nerve-racking at the same time. You may be feeling many different emotions such as anger, helplessness and anxiety. However, ignore the instinct to yell and instead rationally talk to your teen and find out the underlying reason for wanting to drop out of school. Sometimes there is a simple underlying cause that can be solved, while others may need a bit more work.
Discuss the situation with your teen. Do they want to drop out because they do not feel as if they are succeeding or is it something more serious, like a bully? Teens are not known for being rational in their thinking; rather they are very impulsive and make spur-of-the-moment decisions.
You should discuss your teen's situation with a counselor at the high school to determine what options are available as possible alternatives to full-time school as well as to understand any possible legal consequences for dropping out. You should also have your teen see their primary care physician for a check-up to determine if there are any underlying physical or mental conditions which may be affecting your teen's attitude about school.
If your teen is struggling in school, offer to hire a tutor or to help your teen yourself. If the problem is a bully or a group of kids picking on your teen while at school, the problem may run a little deeper.
Be sure to discuss the ramifications of your teen’s actions. Instill in them that high school dropouts typically make 50% less than their fellow peers who graduate and move onto college. Sometimes teens are very quick in their decision-making process and do not stop to think how it may affect their future.
If your teen expresses interest in taking the GED test instead, allow them to go that route providing they follow through. Students who get their GED and continue onto college have the potential to be as successful as those who graduate high school. Getting a GED does not have to be reason for upset.
If you choose to let your teen drop out of school, help them formulate a plan for success. Write down what your teen’s plans are and continue to give them guidance as if they were still in high school. When your teen stops going to high school, your job as your teen’s greatest teacher does not end. It is still up to you to inspire your teen to follow through and become successful, even if it does not mean going to college.
No matter what your teen’s reasons for wanting to drop out of high school, put your feelings aside for a minute and listen to them. You may find that the problem is skin deep and easily fixed. On the other end, you may have a teen that is adamant about dropping out of school with no remedy in sight.
Just because your teen chooses to drop out of school does not mean that they do not have plans for the future. Allow your teen to explain their plan to you, if they have one. If you allow your teen to drop out, do not feel bad - sometimes teens need to learn life’s lessons the hard way in order to find the right way.