Coping with an adolescent confronted with the first major crossroad in their life is not easy. It is a rather overwhelming period that can drive parents to the edge of sanity -- making you question your child's raising and every parental decision you’ve ever made. So you come to think -- how can I help my child when even I can’t seem to handle it?
The first thing you must do in order to be able to rationally and constructively contribute to the situation is to thoroughly understand the situation and exclude panic as a factor.
It’s Not The End of The World
If your child has not qualified for or does not want to attend university, it is not the end of the world. Back in the old days, a university degree was the best starting point of adult life. Nowadays, things have changed. Technology advances, the world is getting smaller, and there are a plethora of prosperous and high-paying career paths that do not require a university degree.
Think of it this way: if your child does not strive to become an academic, that does not mean that they don’t want to learn in life. Alternative education pathways can provide your child with practical knowledge and skills they can apply right away.
Talk, Talk, Talk
No good will come from a one-way conversation in which a parent talks -- usually while panicking -- whereas the kid is ignoring you, while actually freaking out inside and feeling like the entire world has collapsed upon them.
Interactive communication will bring much more success. Keep in mind that your child may be at that stage where they’re convinced that no one understands them, so you must be calm and tactical when trying to engage in a constructive conversation.
Do not judge them, do not refer to their past actions, simply avoid the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ part of the story. Try to learn what interests and excites them instead. Find out if they’d rather work or take an alternative education path before they start to work.
Accept their feelings, desires and attitudes, and they will accept your help.
Choose and Find Alternative Education
If your child is eager to proceed to higher education, vocational education and training (VET) may be just the right choice. Provided by RTOs and TAFE institutes, VET provides students with practical knowledge and experience in the fields of hospitality, events, business, commercial cookery, etc...
Work with your child toward discovering which industry would be the best fit for them. Try to help them to discover what they find appealing and interesting, rather than trying to make the decision on your own based on costs, pay conditions and job availability. Remember -- they will have to fight for it on their own, and they’ll fight better for what they care for.
Once you’ve chosen the industry together, it is time to research course providers and all relevant details. VET offers various degrees of expertise - from Certificate I to IV to Diploma and Advanced Diploma, but it is always recommended to start from the beginning, take small bites, and grow gradually, but steadily.
While TAFE is government-managed, Registered Training Organisations are private colleges that usually excel in one more industry and hold smaller student groups that allow a thorough learning process for students.
If your child chooses one of the most popular and prosperous industries, such as hospitality, tourism or business, it may be better for them to enrol in smaller courses where they’ll get more attention and opportunities to intern at luxury hotels and high-level companies. It is important to stay competitive in the market.
Many of these courses are government funded, meaning your child’s higher education can cost way less than you expected.
Help Them Find Work
What if your child prefers starting work to continue education at the moment? Well -- that can be a very wise move if played smart. While classroom education is great, knowledge gained through experience is still of great value.
Talk to your child to help them find a nice starting position job in the industry they like, where they’ll build their working habits, a base of knowledge, and eventually the desire to learn more and make a step forward in their career. They can always turn to a VET course when they feel they’re ready and get a certificate that will enable them a promotion at work or better employment.
Here are some in-demand jobs to consider that require no university degree.
Encourage Them To Dream Big
It is of great importance that you motivate, support and encourages your child to follow their dreams and work hard on the path they choose. This is a much more efficient approach to take as opposed to pressing them to take a certain path of your choosing and making them feel less self-worth.
Sometimes, as parents, we react strongly, thinking we act in our children’s best interests, but the truth is -- they have come to an age where the choices are their own, whereas we hold the supporting role.
How you can truly help them and make a difference is by understanding their desires and choices, and helping them find the best possible outcome on the path that they’ve chosen on their own.
Encourage your child to dream big and stand up for their dreams, and the rest will come in time.