“Are you taking PSEO classes – you know you don’t want to miss out on FREE college! What are your plans? Where are you going to go to college? What are you going to do with the rest of your life? What? You don’t know? Oh well, you can have the year after you graduate to figure it all out.” I can feel her angst – the barrage of questions stripping her of her usual mature composure.
I want to stuff a sock in the questioning mouth. Instead I wink at her and bite my tongue…besides, they’re well meaning, I remind myself.
“It’s okay, kiddo,” I send the message with my eyes. “You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life right this moment. You were just 10 years old, 7 short years ago. You’ve only been legally old enough to drive for a few short months. You’re still accountable to your dad and me. You can’t even sign any kind of binding legal agreement without us signing, too. It’s okay if you’re not ready to adult full-time yet. It will come – don’t rush it.”
You know, I’ve met dozens of high school kids who are in this same place. I’ve come to realize that we adults can unknowingly add to their anxiety. Why do we expect them to have a clear plan? To know what they want to do for the rest of their lives? To be perfectly organized and ready to step into another 4+ years of schooling? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I can tell you this, those years between 15 and 18 can be really tough!
Our kids need us, perhaps more than they have since they were toddlers. They need to be able to talk to us, to pray with us, to tell us that they are just a tad nervous about this whole adulting thing. I don’t want my kids to feel like I’m shoving them off of the cliff with a hearty (and well-meant) slap on the back…”You’ve got this! You can do it! Ya gotta grow up sometime!”
I want them to feel like I’ve walked with them right up to that door marked “adulthood.” There are days that I have a hard time adulting, and I’ve had twenty plus years of practice! I want them to know that it’s okay to be different! They aren’t going to stop being unique when they become an adult – they aren’t suddenly going to do everything everyone else does!
There is joy in individuality! There is joy in choice. Many high school students can’t wait to take the PSEO classes available to them. Others would rather fill their time with following their passions and learning the skills they are going to need to be adults. I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately. My third child is going into her senior year. We’ve investigated, talked, prayed, and talked some more about the possibility of her taking PSEO classes. Since she isn’t sure if she is going to go to college right after graduating (she is looking at a tech school), we have decided to spend this year making sure she has everything she feels she needs to be a successful adult, instead of filling her hours with some free college classes. It’s a wise choice for her.
We are passing up that one more advanced math class, which would take tons of her time in her senior year and wouldn’t serve her in real life, in favor of a useful course about filing taxes, understanding how interest can work for you or against you, and other personal finance topics. We are passing up on the college writing class that she doesn’t technically need, in favor of a comprehensive speech class, which includes writing and delivering speeches and being able to share the gospel with ease and poise. Instead of a time consuming college science class, which she may or may not have to take later (depending on what major she settles upon), she is going to dive extensively into health, nutrition, and home economics. She already knows how to cook, but she wants to know how to sew, how to bake bread from scratch, how to garden and preserve food, and how to care for infants. These are all skills that she knows she will use later when she has her own family! These are skills that she has time to learn well now, while she is living under our roof and has me as a teacher.
So, I want to encourage all of you moms… moms of any aged children, but especially moms of teens… truly think through the choices with your kids. Talk to them, pray with them, listen to them. There is joy in choice. Encourage them to explore all kinds of ideas and avenues! Education does not always come wrapped in traditional wrapping. College can be a good choice, and a necessary one for careers that require a degree. But make sure that it’s not a mindless choice – “I have to go because that’s just what you do!” I would rather my children not go to college and accrue crazy amounts of debt if they don’t have a clear vision of what they are being called to do.
The truth is, God works and leads in His timing. We need to remember that applies to our kids’ lives as well as ours.