Dear Alex,

I am at a breaking point with my daughter - she just isn’t committed to her education! Virtual learning was a challenge for her, but now that things are back on track in school, she suddenly has no interest and just wants to get her GED. I’m baffled. We raised her with the intention of her going to college to get a high paying job, for a prosperous life. Our arguing goes around in circles. Where do we go from here?

~ Parent for higher Ed | January 2, 2022

Dear Parent,

It can be challenging to watch setbacks in the plans we’ve set forth for our children. Your concern for your daughter’s future and success is valid. In my practice I’ve noticed an overwhelming trend towards trade vocations and GED’s in response to pandemic changes in learning. Our children have survived the trauma of the last two years, but are not thriving. GED’s sound appealing because it’s the quickest way out of this traumatic experience from which recovery feels hopeless.

The best way to approach this is to listen to what she wants, and ask why. Set aside some time for a candid discussion with your daughter and approach it as a self-discovery brainstorming session. Choose a neutral, safe environment, like a park or a coffee shop, and offer your full undivided attention. This will let your daughter know that she’s safe to be creative and think outside the box society has put her in.

Before your conversation, empower her to do the research. What are the requirements and time commitment for a GED versus finishing school? Is a high school diploma or specific GPA required for her chosen career path? It’s also time to examine and share your perspective. Why are you personally committed to the college path, and what does she need to know about that commitment? Things that seem obvious to you, may be novel to her. The goal is to empower her to make smart decisions and develop her forward thinking mindset.

Do remember, your teen’s generation has a very different understanding of the world around them. They are bombarded by voices of millennials suffering crippling student debt, burnout and fatigue. They have less value in standardized education, as they have access to any information or training they could want via the internet. And after virtual learning, a desk job feels like a jail sentence. Success no longer looks like a formulaic path to advanced degrees, promotions and retirement plans. Success is now defined by their relationships and overall mental and physical wellness. To parents, this can look lazy and unmotivated, but to the teen, this is selfpreservation and self-care.

If you or your child are struggling through these conversations, reach out for support in the form of a coach, a teacher or a mentor in the field of her choice. In my practice, I work with teens to lay out realistic goals, connect them to the right people and resources they need, and provide accountability. Feel free to reach out if this is something you need some help with.