No…you don’t have a choice

Parenting is a hard job and as I say regularly raising kids may be one of the hardest jobs there is and in my humble opinion its the one job that if you fuck up the resulting effects can be devastating for generations to come. Which is why I don’t quite get parents who seem to want to take the easy route and be their kids friends while they are raising them. Look, when your kids are well adjusted adults there is plenty of time to be their friends.

I was recently taking part in an online discussion when the subject of would you let your kid drop out of high school came up and was stunned when many of the parents in the discussion said they didn’t feel there was anything they could do if their child was inclined to drop out. Some of the folks said they would seek alternatives but the general feeling was that completing high school is not all that critical to their child’s future success.

Um…..statistically speaking folks without a high school diploma earn less than everyone else. Yes, there is always the oddball case when someone will do well but lets be real, most folks who drop out end up living really hard and difficult lives. Shit, I know this firsthand, I dropped out and after 6-7 years of scrapping to get by, decided in my mid 20’s to go to college. While my path turned out well all things considered, there is no way I would let either of my kids drop out. Thankfully my son is happy with school and as a junior is getting ready to take his ACT and SAT and narrowing down his list of colleges to apply to; so barring some unexpected shit, next spring the boy should be graduating. Which leaves me with one down and one to go.

What I find interesting in these sorts of discussions its always the white folks who generally come from middle class stock that seem to think its okay if little Johnny needs time to find himself. I have never met a poor or working class white person or person of color that would say its ok to let their kid just drop out. Maybe its because those of us with less resources know you need everything you can in your resource bag to make it in this world, maybe its because we don’t have to look far to find the family member in their mid 30’s toiling away at a dead-end job with no benefits to know that education makes a difference.

Plenty of folks like to say college is not all that, no it may not be all that but the reality is we live in a world that many jobs that used to be held by high school graduates now require a degree of some sorts. Even my own job doesn’t require the advanced degree that I hold but it gave me a leg up over the competition and as I heard today “being employed is the new Black” so while I have days I feel like shit about the hundred grand in student loan debts, the fact is those 2 expensive pieces of paper have helped me get jobs.

No, I think class allows folks to romanticize what it means to scrape by, yet the reality is there is nothing romantic about busting your ass to survive. I feel like I missed much of my son’s early childhood because Mama had to work and there were times I had to work 2 and 3 jobs as a single Mama to put food on the table.

So while you may not be able to force a kid to go to school, I think you can do a lot to make that kid understand early on that not going to school is not an option. Sadly my parents did give me the option, it was either work or school, well for a 17 year old who was earning $200 a week back in 1990, working didn’t seem like a bad option. Of course I learned early on that $800 a month was crap money when it came to actually paying bills.

Nope, I am sorry kids but you don’t have a choice, not only must you finish high school but I expect you to do something after high school as well, preferably college but at the very least you need to learn a trade.