Recently I’ve begun researching various colleges for my dd15, and yesterday after taking ds16 to have his wisdom teeth out, I stopped at the community college office to ask some questions. I’ll have to go back with my kids and get an appointment with an advisor for each of them.
Right now I’m feeling conflicted about some issues on the horizon regarding my kids and college. Dd15 is strongly leaning towards a profession that would be a very good fit for her and I’m very supportive of it. It also is academically vigorous and will require 7 – 8 years of college. There are only about 16 colleges that teach this field in the US – and none of them are anywhere close to the state we live in, which necessitates living away from home and raises the bill by about another $10,000 yearly. Each year of schooling costs about $25 – 30,000 before living expenses, and there is very little financial aid available except for student loans. Dd can get started within a year and could theoretically be finished as early as when she’s 22. In the broad scheme of things, that’s pretty young, and she would have a career that could be balanced with raising a family and do something she enjoys and finds satisfying.
I have several views about life/family that aren’t easily reconciled when looking at this particular career path (similar though different issues with ds16), and I’m grappling with how to best guide my children. I’m not telling them what to do or how to do it- that isn’t my role – but not to give them some direction when they’re requesting support would be wrong. I’ve raised my children with the perspectives below, so these are currently views they share (which obviously might change with time). 1) If a couple is old enough to get married, they’re old enough to support themselves. 2) When someone is emotionally mature and ready for marriage and finds the right person, that’s the time to get married – regardless if numerically that seems young or old to others. 3) Children are a blessing and a newly married couple shouldn’t purposely put them on hold to complete academic requirements. 4) The responsibility for supporting the family is on the husband, not the wife. 5) Debt can become a huge albatross around the neck that can force people to make choices they don’t want to make.
Add in to this mix the desire of dd15 to spend a year in Israel, the desire of ds16 to spend several years in yeshiva once he’s 18 (ie, both potentially ‘time outs’ on the career path), and the reality that larger families generally require more financial resources. So guiding them means considering a number of factors with both the long term and short term in mind.
I was telling all this to a good friend last night, and she told me I’m once again going to have to blaze my own trail. And I told her, I’m tired of blazing my own trail for every single thing – I want to find someone who has similar values who has successfully navigated this, and just do whatever they did. I don’t want to have to think, research, and reflect so much. 😆 But as I know very well, a meaningful life of joy doesn’t come from following the crowd unless that’s where my heart is.
So here’s where I’m at with all of this: sometimes I get too uptight and have to step back to regain perspective! I have to remind myself that H-shem created a world where doing His will is the goal, and whatever we’re doing, it’s with the desire to serve Him and to be responsible stewards in this world of the resources we’re entrusted with. I have to let go of trying to figure all of this out in advance, and do the best I can one day at a time, and trust that the partner that I’ve had raising my children all these years – H-shem – will continue to support us all and help us make the right choices.
Practically speaking I don’t know what that will look like, but I’ll share it with you when we figure it out!