by Lori Richey, former youth director

Many young people today are graduating from high school and not pursuing a college degree afterward. For some, this may be due to academic or financial concerns. For others, it may be an intentional choice as the career or job they aspire to may not require it.

How can parents help their young adult children navigate these years if they go a non-traditional route?

  • Don’t take it personally. Your child’s decision to attend college or not is not a reflection of your abilities as a parent. Young people can live out their callings and use their gifts in a variety of ways.
  • Help your child explore options – including trade schools, work or apprenticeship opportunities, travel possibilities, and gap-year studies. All of these avenues can lead to greater self-awareness and understanding of God’s call.
  • Encourage your child to seek out and participate in young adult groups or Bible studies – many churches offer them.
  • Help teens create visible timelines they can use for making decisions about their future via calendars, white boards, or even index cards on the fridge. These deadlines might not always be met but can be useful in keeping action steps present for all to see, without a parent having to “nag” or remind.

Being a supportive parent doesn’t mean you have to support your child while they take no action steps towards a productive future. Being supportive means helping them set goals, being available to problem-solve or process when they hit a bump in the road, and celebrating successes along the way. God is present in the process, for kids and for their parents, too.


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