Teens: Is it too Late?

May 23, 2009

by Tammy Drennan

If your children are teenagers it is still not too late to choose independence. Even one year can make a huge difference in a young person’s life.

I’ve talked with many new homeschoolers who have been amazed at the transformation in their teens once they got them out of public school.

All of a sudden life opened up for these young people. They felt they had a say and some control of their own future. And they were relieved of the horrible burden state schooling had become, with its pointless requirements and regulations and constant surveillance, evaluation and bungling remediation.

To be sure, many of these teens will carry the damage of state schooling well into their adult years, but even a single year of empowerment and change can give them hope.

One of the best things I think you can do when starting late in the game of independence is sit down with your teen and evaluate together his or her goals. Then fashion the rest of his school time with that in mind (and don’t be afraid to extend that time if it seems necessary – an extra year or two can pay big dividends). What you do will probably not look like institutional schooling.

You may opt to have your teen do an apprenticeship or study to take a GED or enter college early or work in a family business and do some studying on the side or start a small business of her own.

You may want her to do some volunteer work while she studies on the side or spend time learning non-traditional or non-school skills.

You may pinpoint some weak areas and hone in on those to the exclusion of other things. Maybe you realize your teen lacks the skills to handle his finances or healthy relationships.

You may even want to give your teen the liberty to pursue a passion for a year or two – something that may or may not become a vocation but that will certainly enrich her life.

But the most important lesson you will pass on to your young person is independence. You’ll teach him or her how to wisely self-define, set goals, seek resources and help, act maturely and responsibly, admit and correct mistakes, take some risks and avoid others, interact with other free people and much, much more.

You can cover a lot of ground in even a year, and as you guide your teen to greater independence, he or she will revel in the feeling of being a true adult and not one of Uncle’s Sam’s creations.

There are few feelings as good as true freedom and little living that is fulfilling without it.