What can you do when your child wants to attend a secondary school you simply can’t afford or one that you feel strongly opposed to?
Q. My daughter desperately wants to go to a private secondary college that I can’t possibly afford. I know that this is a wonderful school and all of her best friends are going there too. I feel very guilty about not being able to send her to this school and don’t know how to approach telling her that we can’t afford this option.
A. It’s so important for parents to be honest with their teenagers. You should not feel guilty about not being able to afford a private school. That’s life. Children and teenagers do adjust and they do appreciate honesty from parents. Let your daughter know that you wish you could afford the school. This could be an opportunity to actually strengthen the relationship you have with her. Tell her that she will be able to maintain the friendships with her friends despite the fact that they will be at different schools. Reassure her that you will do everything possible to make this happen, even helping her to organise sleep-overs and other social events.
If your daughter is angry, give her time to adjust before bringing the subject up again. Identify all of the schools within a reasonable distance from your home and ask her to look at these options with you. Visit potential schools together and let her know that the choice is hers. Hopefully you will be able to find a school that not only suits her particular talents but one where even one of her current friends will enrol. If your daughter won’t have any friends attending the school you eventually choose, contact the school and let them know about this. Some schools will organise a special orientation day for all students who are the only student enrolling from their current primary school. The most important message you need to give to your daughter is that you would have enrolled her in the private school if it was at all possible and you will do everything in your power to support her in finding a great secondary school.
And stop feeling guilty! Children and teenagers need to learn that they can’t always have everything they want. It’s a valuable lesson.