On those rare occasions that I have conversation with my son about his future, I try not to pry too much and let him do all the talking. So, one day Matthew decided to tell me that he doesn’t know if he wants to go to college.
My first reaction was, “You will be going to college. Are you crazy?” But I took a deep breath, and told Matthew he still has two years to decide what he wants to do after high school. He is 16 years old and a high school sophomore. I know some 16 year olds may already know what they want to do when they graduate and where they want to go to college. However, not all teenagers know. They are all different and that’s okay.
Stress, I truly believe, has a lot to do with it. Teenagers have so much homework and so much studying that often they can’t see their future, and the thought of more work in college scares them.
I told Matthew we will cross that bridge when we get to it, and we will take one day at a time. He said, ” I don’t want to waste your money on college. I would rather take a year off and then decide.” I told him I appreciated that he didn’t want to waste our money and his time going to college, but I hope he changes his mind. I told him he could take a “gap year” if he felt it is what he needs.
I truly felt trying to talk to him out of not going to college at this point would be useless. I remember my daughter Olivia’s thoughts about college when she was 16, and she did a full 180 by the time she graduated. I think what I do need to worry about is Matthew’s stress and anxiety and how to help him work through it. I guess my gut as a mom tells me he will change his mind because he is a smart kid and knows that without education, it is more difficult to succeed in life. Matthew just needs to mature and grow up some more before making any decisions about his future.
So for now, I continue to listen when he wants to talk, which is rare for a teenage boy. I try to help him work through the stress and anxiety, and of course, I try to guide him to make smart decisions for his future. Because in the end, parents get blamed 10 or 15 years later when their children’s lives are not how they planned, even if we let them choose the path they want to follow.