What do you do with a failing child? With someone who disappoints you and doesn’t meet your expectations? It’s hard to ignore that we are in full-blown graduation season. For the past three weeks every newspaper, media outlet and social media forum has been all about celebrations here and there. First, the extravagant outfits worn to prom, where adolescents not only display their individuality, but also the status they hold among their peers, to the transition into the lavish after parties that have become more elaborate as time progresses. Oh, and let’s not forget the posts about the college acceptance letters and all the parental displays of pride for one’s child happily moving in the direction of their professional life.
But what about the other part of this group? According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 14.9 percent of Lynn teens dropped out of school in 2018. This group will not graduate school, didn’t get accepted to college, and don’t really have a plan to move forward. I often wonder how that group of parents must feel seeing everyone else celebrate their child’s achievements, and knowing that their child, despite all of their collective efforts, did not make it to the finish line, and will not add any type of academic pride to the family legacy.
As a parent, I put myself in those shoes, and I know for a fact that I’ve placed most of my hard work into unconditionally loving my child, supporting his academics, and reminding myself of loving him despite the times when he’s stumbled in school. I have also focused on making him an independent young man, although that has not always been in my best interest, as he’s developed a larger-than-life personality, and most of the time his opinions (which he has tons of) can get in the way of getting things done, completed, checked off the list. He is as stubborn as I am, so our arguments or disagreements can be long and tedious. So it’s difficult, to say the least.
I guess no parent is prepared to accept the fact that their child might not be moving into the bright future they have envisioned in their head. So, what’s next? How can we as parents undo all the feelings of failure and frustration that come naturally with this setback? If I were in those shoes, I would probably think that it is the end of the world. I know, I’m a bit overdramatic, but in all honesty, it is not.
I guess I want to tell parents out there that there are multiple avenues your child can pursue to get back on track and continue to move forward, if that’s what they choose. GED programs that can help obtain the diploma, community colleges that are prepared to tackle stellar and not-so-stellar students and help them shape their professional future, trade schools that are very much in demand in the employment field — but most importantly the idea of teaching your child that a rock in the road is not a reason to quit, and will not be the reason you stop believing in them as a parent. So, my advice to you is to love your child, unconditionally and eternally, and if the amount of love you’re currently giving is not enough, then increase the dose.
Carolina Trujillo is the Community Relations Director for Essex Media Group. She can be reached at [email protected]