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Son threatens to be truant...

Parents Support One Another @

I need help with the following issue:

My son requests to be awakened early for school, and every morning my wife and I will go to wake him, he becomes upset. When he finally gets up he wants to argue on why we did not get him up on time and threatens us with not wanting to go to school. It happened this morning and we just were yelling and arguing (i now know was wrong). It ended with me just saying get ready for school and I walked away. Shortly I went to check on him and he was getting ready and he became very angry and defensive that I went to check on him. Any advice on how I could have handled differently. This is a daily morning ritual with him.



Getting children up and ready for the day...whether it is for school, daycare, or even a sport or enrichment activity is a sure-fire stress builder and typical cause of morning madness. What can moms and dads do to start each day in a positive fashion? Here are seven ideas.

Clothing, down to clean socks, underwear and shoes, and even matching hair accessories should be laid out each night before bed. Children can play a role in choosing the outfit, but no changes are allowed once their head hits the pillow. And, then stick with it! The only exceptions should be an unknown tear or stain, or surprise change in the weather. This avoids missing socks, unmatched shirt and shoes, and keeps getting dressed a simple step in beginning the day vs. a looming battle.

Designate an area for all essentials that can eliminate the crazed morning syndrome when you're trying to leave. Shoes, backpacks, car keys, cell phones, purses, etc., should be placed in this area every day, always, so they are always in place and ready for action. Keep a cell phone charger in this area so your phone is charged for the day. Not having to hunt down keys or other last-minute essentials is a time and blood pressure saver, for sure!

If you've got more than one kid in the house, and especially if you have a large family, consider staggering wake up times for greater efficiency. Start with children who need assistance first, or the ones who are real sleepyheads who move at a snail's pace come mornings.

It's just not enough to get dressed and eat. How many times have children missed the bus because they couldn't find their homework sheet or didn't have their backpack put together? If you drive your children, then put their organized backpacks in the car the night before. Lunches should also be prepared just before bed and easily grabbed from the fridge ready-to-go. Jackets should be in a central location. The "snatch and go" theory really does work in the mornings.

One mom swears by weekly breakfast menus; other adheres to cereal and fruit. Yet another has her children eat the $1 breakfast at school each morning. Some day care centers offer breakfast for children; others allow moms and dads to bring in a morning meal. Breakfast is important--some experts argue that it is the most important meal of the day, so your children need a nutritious start each a.m. However, that start shouldn't put moms and dads in a work bind or make children late for school.

One way to make it easier for children to get up in the mornings is to create occasional "children get up...NOT" day on occasion as a reward. If it's a school holiday, lazy weekend opportunity, or just about any reason at all, moms and dads can make a special celebration out of the exception. The "not" day also serves to reinforce the lesson that normal mornings have a schedule and expectation; and that occasionally everyone gets a break from the routine.

Moms and dads really can help to determine whether their children become morning risers or morning whiners. If moms and dads moan and groan, are always frantic, grumpy and running late themselves, then how can they really expect anything more of their own children? Good advice is to get up earlier yourself, start that coffee or do 10 minutes of exercise, and then show that Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and really mean it when you greet your children with "Good Morning!"

Moms and dads unwittingly cause morning madness by not instilling that the routine is a family requirement and not an option. A non-negotiable routine must be established, and consequence discussed and determined (i.e. “If you don't get up on first call, your bedtime is 15 minutes earlier tonight”). It's the "wiggle room" that causes melt-downs and tantrums on the very morning moms and dads have a "must make" meeting.

Some moms and dads unwittingly set their children to fail with their morning routines by tackling on unexpected chores and duties, which causes whines and a mad rush to end up on time. Consider creating a checklist of what absolutely must be done each morning, and then forget the rest. If you want your child to make his bed every morning, then make that a requirement. However, cleaning the cat box can surely wait until a child gets home.

Why does a parent have to wake children up anyway? Except for very young kids, children can learn to awaken by an alarm clock and get themselves up without mom or dad hovering and yelling, "Are you up yet?" Let them decide what is the best time for the alarm to go off and get ready on time. If this means Erica doesn't get her hair braided or Sam doesn't get second helpings on cereal, encourage them to set their alarm 15 minutes earlier tomorrow. Cause and's a good lesson to learn!

We just want our daughter back...


I would like to ask a question about my teen. We were having some major issues that I talked to you about before. She was staying out for days at a time, skipping school, anger and defiance,etc. We finally felt we needed to get her an intervention and get her away from the situations here. We took her to a behavior treatment program where she could also take school work. She did great at the program and they said she was one of their leaders. We went for her mid-term and she was really good. She wanted to come home but knew she had to complete the program. She completed it and we picked her up and within hours, she was having her anger issues all over again. We hoped it was just anxiety. When we got home, she went out without permission two different times and as not pleasant to us as all. We didn't want to go down that road again as it was all very painful. We told her she had to have respect for us and our rules or she had to find a new place to live. She chose the latter and is living with her boyfriend at his aunt's place. They are both 16. She will not see any of the family which is exactly what she did before when she was seeing this same boy. They become so enclosed within themselves that can't seem to find a balance with friends and family, etc. We want her back home so bad but just don't know what to do from this point on. She doesn't want to come home as the aunt continues to let her live there. We just feel so saddened by everything and in hindsight, should not have given her a choice of leaving or staying as we should have known what she would do. We were told by the program where she was at that we could not allow her to come home and run the show again. We had to lay down the rules immediately. She didn't like the ruls and would just laugh at us when we even mentioned them. We had tried some of your program before but it wasn't of much use when she wasn't even home at all. We'd see her maybe 2 hours per week and not even to talk to her as she wouldn't speak with us. At this program she was at, she couldn't uncover where her anger is coming from. She is adopted so we wondered if that played into it at all.

We desperately need help in this situation! Any suggestions? We just want our daughter back.



I don't see much that you can do. You could text her and ask that she keep informing you that she's ok...the less you try to demand things or control the situation, the sooner you'll get her back. Promising (via text message), that she will not be punished when she comes back might help, but I would suggest that you not do that unless you mean it.

I agree with the above post. You can't make her come home. I also left home at 16, although I'm sure the circumstances are different. All you can do is let her know that you love her and want her to be safe, whether you leave a voice-mail or text her. Just in case she ignores you attempts at contacting her, though, I suggest calling her friends and/or their parents to relay the message to her. Even if she won't tell you where she is, ask her to at least let you know that she's safe, that she has a roof over her head and food to eat. If you don't hear from her, call the police back and tell them that you've lost contact. I know it ***** that the cops don't want to/can't do much. Did you two have a fight before she "took off"? Is there any indication as to why she left home? Feel free to PM me is you want to discuss that in private.

The biggest problem I think everyone is missing here is this... you as her mother are 100% responsible for EVERYTHING she does, it’s easy for the police to tell you there is nothing they can do as she is technically not missing, but you can guarantee they will be banging down your door if she breaks the law.. ughh .. anyway there is not much you can do at this point, hope to god I am never in this situation.

I know what you are feeling my 15 yr old son has done this repeatedly to me you worry and can't sleep...this will not be the last time. I found useful to try to be calm ( which is extremely difficult when you are so worried) but I throw back my at my son how he has made me feel such as you have hurt my feelings, you have disappointed me that you don't think of how I feel when I don't know where you are, how would you feel if you couldn't find me??? This is the only thing that works with my son.

What point is it that you feel she doesn’t understand? The fact is, that you may well -have- lost control of her. If she considers whatever she experienced while she was away to be proof that she can survive without you, then she won't see any reason to defer to you anymore. At her age it's normal to need to try and prove, both to herself and everyone around her, that she is independent, and doesn't need you. This is part of a differentiation process that begins around puberty, peaks around 15, and continues, albeit with progressively less contention, until she either moves out or starts feeling like an adult member of the household.

I have a 16 yr old daughter that has decided to not come home for the past 3 days. She has been going out with a guy that we thought was good for her who is almost 18. They have been together just over 2 months and claim total and undying love. Problem is she has been cutting classes, not going to school at all claiming a mental breakdown. She has a mental health counselor that I haven't seen much help from at all. She is fine around lots of other people. Goes to classes when she feels like and basically has blown off her first semester of grade 11. She used to be an honor roll, principals list student until grade 10 that is when things started to go wrong. She has already gone through the drug counseling issues. I am praying to the Lord for help, but wonder should we tell her to come and get her belongings, and kick her out or should we wait for her to possible come home. She texted me saying she wasn't sure when she was coming home, but her phone is dead now. There is a phone where she is staying. HELP. DO I JUST WAIT???

I have an out of control stepson aged 16 who goes out every night and sometimes doesn't come back for days and treats the house like a hotel never doing anything at all. When I confronted him recently and insisted he stayed in he beat me up. He doesn't go to school and just lies about all day watching TV or playing games with me. I have now reached the conclusion that it is better to let him work his way through this stage of development and he hope he becomes more mature.

When I ask my 16-year old son why he doesn't want to be home, he says it's because he's a teenager. He at least now has a job, since he drives and is costing us money in car insurance and gas (he'll now be paying some of.) He failed a class for the first semester, and that's bad. He used to be a straight A student until middle school, but at least B's and C's. Now all C's and failed the Spanish first semester. I do think he's doing some kind of drug, even though is says he quit. It has been very hard.

I think back to when I was 16. The only thing that I would listen to is myself. I knew it all and nothing anyone else would tell me was going to make any difference at all. My 16 year old decided she was going to start making the rules, therefore it's time for her to have her own place where she can apply these rules. These rules will not take place in my house, and I wish her nothing but the best. I will always be here for her, but I refuse to be lied to, walked on, and made out to be the bad guy. I hope she has a warm coat because it's cold outside.

I also have a 16 year old daughter, and she has disrespected me for the last time. On Tuesday she got caught in my house having sex with her so called boyfriend, of two months. Knowing my number one rule is no one in the house when I’m not there. When I confronted her she had no remorse and said that she did nothing wrong this is her house. I said no honey this was your home, not your house. I did kick her out. made sure she has roof and food on the table. Some of friends do not agree with my decision. But I believe that just because we are the grown ups/adults why should we take the disrespect from them? Yes they are only 16, but if you are old enough to do drugs have sex, then you should be old enough to realize that having sex in your mother’s house is a BIG NO-NO...

My Out-of-Control Teen

She told us she was not going to college...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My wife and I started this program with our daughter several weeks ago.  Last week she told us she was not going to college next year and was going to travel with two guys and couch surf around various parts of the country. 

We told her we didn't support it and that she had the following choices:
1.  Join a program like AmeriCorps for th year.
2.  Work PT and go to college PT locally.
3.  Go to school FT.

She refused all three and said she was going to do what she wanted.  We told her that if this was course she insisted on following, then when she turned 18 in two weeks, she needed to find another place to live.  We took back her keys to a third car we let her us, took back her laptop we gave her for college, took back her cell phone that we pay for.   She then said I'm leaving now and left the house and is staying with a friend of hers.   She gets good grades, doesn't drink or do drugs, but in the past year has become so defiant, radical (we think she's been brainwashed by this guy friend she wants to travel with) and disrespectful that we are at our wits end.    We love her dearly and only want to get a good start with her life, but she seems determined that she wants it to be difficult and dangerous.

Please help with any advice.

L & D.



Back in the old days, a kid could get by with a high school education; even dropouts fared well, usually following some sort of trade path or apprenticeship. Then, too, in those days, a handshake was as good as a signature on most contracts, such as home buying, and credit was extended based on personal references versus an arbitrary decision made by faceless credit bureaus.

Today, things have certainly changed. Many kids still drop out of high school; some obtain merely a GED and even those with diplomas have difficulty finding a job, let alone a career. The airwaves are filled with ads for second-class trade schools, promising certification in a number of fields in a matter of months. Part of the issue, too, is the sense of entitlement and instant gratification that permeates our culture.

The problem with many of these types of schools is the lack of support after graduation and the realities of the fine print, which most students don't bother to read - they see only that, in a few short months, they can be "certified" to do a job. It doesn't occur to them that many, many others are qualified and that some, even, have a much fuller, more well-rounded college education. This is their competition.

Adolescents being what they are, they don't listen overly well to older, wiser voices. They think they know what is best, and college may not be it. How does a parent cope with refusal to attend college? Well, there are several components to this question.

To begin, speak of college occasionally throughout your youngster's life - make it a given, understood that college follows high school, and treat it as a fact. Your youngster will attend college, period. This is a good strategy, especially if the comments increase as the youngster ages and are accompanied with offhand remarks about location, news, degree programs, interests, and so forth.

If you haven't done this, and even if you have and it doesn't seem to be working, all is not lost. Just remember that, even if your teen has college-age friends, they may still be pretty clueless about the ins and outs of college life and the opportunities available. Take some time to talk to them about their interests, and time to impart some basic information on these things, such as living in the dorms, class schedule and credits, extra-curriculars and of course, financial aid.

Suppose either or both strategies are successful; your youngster enrolls in college and starts classes. You may very likely never know how your youngster is doing, or whether or not he's even consistently attending class. US privacy laws today are so stringent that, most freshmen being eighteen years old and considered "adults", even a parent is unable to be informed about their academic progress or lack thereof - in spite of the moms and dads usually footing the tuition bill and providing other things like housing, food, and so forth.

If your youngster doesn't keep you up-to-date, enjoy your state of blissful ignorance as long as possible. At the end of the semester, you'll find out and you'll likely be disappointed or even angry that your youngster has "failed". Please keep in mind that it is your youngster who has failed, not you personally and not you as a parent.

Remember when your toddler first began to walk? You spread the news, basking in the knowledge that you, as a parent, must be doing it right! Then came temper tantrums, in public places, and you were mortified that everyone must think you were a horrible parent. Ah, the light begins to dawn - we are quick to take credit, slow to take blame. However, remember always this one important point: your youngster is an individual, not an extension of you. You can do everything "right" and still not have things turn out the way you want or expect.

Try to find out why your youngster failed: lack of preparation, academically or emotionally? Laziness? Inability to do the work? Depression or some other mental or emotional issue? Perhaps, just maybe, your youngster is not college material - he might not, really, be smart enough, or dedicated enough, or interested enough.

Again, this is no reflection on you, it's all on your youngster, the individual who must do the work - or not.

At this point, you have several choices. You could toss him out on his behind to make his own way in the world; you could insist he return to college; or you could sit down and work with him to help him determine the best choice for his future.

Many moms and dads are so disappointed and upset that they choose the first one. This may not be all bad, because some kids just can't be reasoned with or instructed at all - they need a taste of reality. Some moms and dads insist on enrolling their youngster in the next semester, willing to do anything to get them to attend college. Most are likely crushed at the resultant failure of yet another 4-5 classes.

The third choice is the best.

Swallow your disappointment, keep your anger in check at least around the youngster in question, and formulate a plan. It's probably best to do this with your partner, make sure you are both on the same page, do some research, and take notes. Present a plan, or several possibilities, to your teen and have an honest, open discussion.

Keep in mind how involved you wish to be in this decision. You may provide a financial start, room and board, help find information, or all of these things. Or maybe none of them. You may give your teen a time limit to decide where to begin, or you may leave it open-ended. The danger in this latter is that, unmotivated, your teen may end up being a fixture in your basement for several years. Some moms and dads are okay with this, most are not. The end-goal of raising a youngster is just that - raising - and once that's accomplished, the youngster becomes an adult and should be responsible for himself, completely.

Your job is to give him the skills and knowledge to do this, and by the time college rolls around, whether he attends or not, he should be in possession of these. If he isn't, if college isn't working out for him, help him with planning and fill in any gaps that you may have missed over the years - or that he may have ignored - and prepare to boost (not boot!) him out of the nest.

College isn't for everyone, or even for immediately after high school. Take a deep breath, realize your youngster is an individual, and help him prepare to take the plunge - regardless of his choices.


We all want what we feel is best for our children. However, sometimes our children disagree. Going to college or on to any further or higher education comes at a point in many adolescent's lives when they are already feeling overwhelmed by advice and assumptions. A refusal to go to college can be cause by several things, but in many cases is it an assertion of your adolescent's individuality.

It is easy as a parent to get carried away with what you think your adolescent wants or should do, based on your own aspirations and not theirs. If you never had the opportunity to further your own education, it is natural to want your offspring to achieve more academically than you were able. If you have been paying into a college fund or savings account since your child was small, and your child knows this, it may feel like a bitter blow when they announce they do not want to go to college. It feels like all the financial sacrifices you have made are being thrown back in your face. There are other ways of seeing their decision than simply a willful refusal.

The first thing to ask when your adolescent refuses to go to college is, why? Try to sit down with them and have a reasoned discussion, not to convince them that they are wrong, but to simply find out what their reasons are. It may be that they have certain fears about moving to a new city far from home, or a fear of not living up to your or their own expectations. It could also be that they do not really know what subjects they want to take, or that they are feeling study fatigue after spending a good portion of their lives already in formal education. Whatever reasons they give, as a parent you need to listen to them without trying to change their minds at that point. Make sure they know that you are taking on board everything they have said, and that after giving it all some thought, you will want to discuss what options they have at a later (but not too much later) date.

The very worst thing you can do is to tell your adolescent that they are going to college no matter what they say or do. This will cause your adolescent to put up all their defenses and even if they do end up going to college they will resent being there and are unlikely to perform to the best of their ability. Blackmail is also not a good approach to take. By telling your adolescent that they owe it to you to go because you have saved for years on their behalf for the fees will just add to the pressure that they already feel under.

Approaching the situation with a calm and rational outlook is not easy, but will pay dividends in the long run. After considering what your adolescent has told you in your initial discussion, try to find some answers to their fears. If it is the distance away from home that is bothering them, are there any similar courses they can take that are closer to home or that will not mean them having to move out? If they are worried about making new friends, you could suggest that they investigate social media networks to chat to others in a similar situation and perhaps make friends before they arrive on campus. You could also suggest a mini vacation as a family to one or other of their original preferred destinations, to explore the area and get a feel for the local culture.

Another approach is to ask your adolescent what they propose to do instead of college. This puts the ball back in their court, gives them a feeling of control and may even surprise you with their answer. It may be that they want to get a job: in uncertain economic times, this may be a noble yet unattainable goal. Compromise by suggesting they put in their college application for the following year, and spend the interval looking for work. If they land a good job then they can always withdraw their application, and if they are unable to find work then they have their college place to fall back on.

Taking a "gap year" as it is known in Europe is a very popular way for those leaving school to break up their studies. It gives them the opportunity to gain some paid work experience, or to just volunteer, before focusing on their studies once again. Many adolescents spend part or all of the year travelling and broadening their horizons that way. Whatever they choose to do, it will give them an edge when it comes to applying for jobs or postgraduate study in the future.

If your adolescent's fears centre on not being good enough to succeed at an academic course, perhaps they would be better suited to a more vocational course of study. It may be possible to secure them an apprenticeship position, whereby they study for just one or two days or evenings each week, while working in a practical trade during the day. This often suits adolescents who have shown as aptitude for mechanics, cookery, childcare or animal husbandry. Investigating the part-time and evening study options available in your local area may help them decide if this is the right path for them to take.

Whatever reason your adolescent gives for not wanting to go to college, it is not the end of the world. Many thousands of people return to study later on in life with good results, even though they did not want to continue their education at the end of their schooling. Making sure that your adolescent is happy and focused is more important to their success as adults than pushing them into a college experience that they do not feel ready for or engaged in.


"I'm sick of school! I'm not going to college and you can't force me to!"

Your adolescent is right, you know. At the age of eighteen he or she is legally an adult...old enough to sign a legal document, old enough to join the military and old enough to refuse to go to college.

He now has the right of self-determination, and no matter how you feel about the decision your young adult has made, it may seem that there is not much you can do about it.

You, as a parent, are probably feeling anger, disappointment, and frustration. This young person may have always earned good grades. You have envisioned a bright future for him. Now your teen seems determined to throw it all away.

He is rebellious, defiant and unflinching. There will be no college in his immediate future and that is that!

The atmosphere after discussions of this type is usually tense and heated. Follow-up negotiations are best left until a later time when tempers have cooled.

While you're preparing for Round Two, review your position. You also have the right of self -determination and you are in a much more favorable position. You have age, experience and resources on your side. In contrast, the teen has only youth, inexperience, lack of training or skills for making a living, and few resources at his disposal.

Your best option is to accept his decision graciously, while making clear that you do not think it is the wisest choice. Then you will present these conditions:

• He must do his own washing. Mom no longer provides laundry service.
• If the young person wishes to be treated as an adult, so be it. However, sitting around home watching TV is not an option for a responsible adult. If he wishes to live at home, he or she must get a job and start paying board. Check the local paper for fair rates for room and board in your area.
• Meals are served at specific times in your home. Anyone missing one mealtime must wait for the next one.
• No in-room guests are allowed after 11:00 P.M.
• No more use of the family car. There will no longer be chauffeur service by a parent. When the teen needs transportation, a taxi or public transport must be utilized while he saves up for a car of his own.
• You may share that you have money saved for college, and it will be used only for that purpose. If this youngster does not wish to take advantage of it, it will be put away for the use of the first grandchild, (or niece or nephew) who attends an institute of higher learning.

After that, all you have to is stick to your resolve. Chances are, your young rebel will be in college within a year. Contemporary life is not easy for an unskilled worker with only a high school diploma.

It will not be easy watching your teen struggle to survive under the strict conditions you have imposed. Many parents find applying tough love principles are just as challenging for them as for the adolescent.

It is important that you have remain resolute and unyielding. Just remind yourself that your youngster's future well-being depends on your steadfastness now.

Someday, when he is settled, with steady, profitable employment, and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, he will reward you with sincere and heartfelt thanks.

However, your ultimate reward will come when you watch him using the same tactics on his own adolescent.

I finally have had PEACE in my life...

Parents Support One Another @ = I have been using your program for about a month now, I am on chapter 3, and I have to tell you----THANK YOU!!!!! I finally have had PEACE in my life.  My children are doing their chores.  I have not argued with my teenager (15) during all this time. Life is good again, and I feel confident and supported. My husband and I were making mistakes without even knowing.  I'll keep you posted. So far ai good!!!

My son has dropped out of school...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My son has dropped out of school and does not want to go to Tafe or get a job, he is so busy socialising, he gets home most nights at 5am. He is sleeping most of the day and goes out all night, he is not interested in spending any time with us,he is mixing with kids I do not approve of, and  basically is doing as he pleases, if I start enforcing discipline he disappears for day's and I don't know where he is, It's really worrying me as to their activities all night. I feel helpless.


Any parent who has had a similar experience will remember their initial disbelief, anger and helplessness. Most will also recall shame and self blame and how difficult it was to tell anyone that their teen was a dropout.

I know. One of my kids made the decision to quit school three weeks before graduation. A classic bright underachiever, he had delayed doing necessary course assignments until it was too late to turn them in. His adolescent solution was to simply leave the system.

I don't know if he thought school officials would extend the deadline if he threatened to quit or whether he just wanted to avoid the embarrassment of not attending graduation. Or if he truly believed that school was "irrelevant to his life" as he had been saying for a long while.

What I do know is that my reaction to his demand for my signature on the withdrawal forms was intense.

At first, I simply didn't want to sign. I thought if I just said no to his request he would change his mind, attend summer school, and graduate in August. He made it clear he was leaving school whether the papers were signed or not.

Then I lectured him about the statistical fact that most kids who drop out do not continue their education. That they had significantly lower lifetime earnings -nearly 50 percent less than their non dropout peers. He said he knew and that would not be his future.

Next, I got angry and accused him of not following through on commitments, being lazy, and other negatives that I am not proud of. He listened quietly and asked me again to sign the forms.

At that point, I realized his decision was not about me and that he was entitled to learn his life lessons just as I had learned mine. I signed on the dotted line even though I felt awful. He thanked me and left to file the papers.

Two weeks later, he took the General Education Development (GED) test, passed it with flying colors, and received a state diploma at the same time as his friends. He has since gone on to obtain a wonderful managerial job and gift me with two delightful grandkids.

He is bright and witty, an excellent employee, a loyal husband and father, and a child that I am very proud of. He just did not fit into the standard academic lockstep. His learning style is creative and visual and he needs autonomy.

Actually, he is a lot like his father and mother.

The following are some insights that I wish others had shared with me during this difficult time. If you are dealing with a dropout situation, I hope that they are helpful.

Many moms and dads feel ashamed and isolated when their youngster drops out of school. It would be good for these adults to know that they are not alone.

National statistics indicate that over the last decade between 347,000 and 544,000 students in grades 10 through 12 left school each year without successfully completing a high school program.

In simpler terms, five of every 100 teens enrolled in high school in October 1999 left school before graduation. That is one out of every 20 students.

This makes for a lot of moms and dads from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds wondering why their youngster can't just stay in school and graduate like all the other kids they know.

I know it would have been helpful to me to be part of a support group for moms and dads of dropouts or moms and dads of adolescents who want to drop out. Perhaps it is time that such groups were started in schools and communities.

Although many adolescents drop out of high school, most do not drop out of life.

Whether they enroll in a GED program, go directly to college without a diploma, start their own business, or become productive artists, many are quite successful in careers that do not depend upon a traditional academic path.

Still others will later resume a traditional academic path and become doctors, lawyers, and teachers just as we had wished for them during their rebel years.

Just because your teen has taken an adult like step to drop out of school, it does not mean that he has the maturity to plan a happy and productive life. It does not mean that she does not still need parental guidance, consistent rules, and unconditional love and support.

To the contrary, left without the structure of a six hour school day, your youngster may need personal and professional help with time management, goal setting, and creating a positive identity. Just as you may need help releasing any disappointment and anger that you feel over the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies.

Counseling gave me a chance to look closely at my own expectations with regard to high school and how they differed from my child's.

I wanted him to graduate with high honors, get a full scholarship to a prestigious college, and become a successful artist. Those were three things that I had never done because I was a bright underachiever.

My child's often articulated expectation for high school was that it would help him "invent" or find his unique self. He knew that process wasn't happening in a classroom setting. Even the alternative school program he attended was designed to help kids stay in school.

Intuitively, he knew his identity had to first be defined by what he was not. And the passage of the years has proved him right.

Sometimes a dropout is also testing the relationship waters. The question of "will you still love me if I quit school" may be unconsciously directed at moms and dads, friends, and dating partners. It reflects a deeper question of "do you love me for what I do or for who I am?"

We as moms and dads get the unique opportunity to love our kids unconditionally during the dropout process and after. And we get to watch as they find their own solutions in life.

One of the lessons I learned from my child's dropout experience is how to be a detached cheerleader. I root for him finding and growing into his identity. If he asks for help, I respond. If not, I simply cheer in prayer and meditation.

There are many lessons learned in the high school years. My child, in dropping out of the system, taught me some very valuable ones.