EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 21, 2013

Be honest about the consequences of leaving school

By Larry Larsen (USE MUG)
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Dear Doctor,

My son is saying he wants to leave high school. He is a junior and school has not been one of the best things in his life. He does not know I never finished high school, but left and got a job. I really regret leaving school and wonder if I should tell him, if it would help.

Regretful Dad

Dear Dad,

You are bringing up three issues: regret, truth, and what is helpful.

Regret is a terrible waste of time. It has only two uses: One is to help us learn, but once the lesson has been understood, regret serves no further purpose; the other is misery, which most of us could do without.

My advice is to give yourself five intense minutes of regret, including whining, and then shut the process down.

The second issue is truth. Family secrets are, as a rule, not useful. If the occasion presents itself, share with your son the truth and your view of it.

It will be especially important to make certain he understands you regret leaving and why. What has it cost you? What have the difficulties been that you encountered along the way? How would staying in school have helped?

Search deeply within yourself because you may well find your decision was not fatal.

Finally, parents can offer whatever help we can and share wisdom until it hurts. The decision will be in the mind and heart of your son. Do not be an enabler. Let him experience the consequences.of his choices. Just as you have learned from experiences, so will he.

Difficulty is a tough, but sometimes necessary, teacher.

Ask a question by emailing Andover psychologist Dr. Larry Larsen at lrryllrsn@CS.com