I'm a 16 year old teenager growing up in Texas. My dad was (up until now) a really good dad. We used to do stuff together, but that has changed in the last couple of years or so.

I don't have a good outlook on school. I see it as a somewhat repetitive thing I go to get a pseudo-imaginary score based on some irrelevant papers we do everyday. Due to this, over the course of several years, I've tended to drop out of several advanced classes, notably Algebra 1 in 8th grade. I know I'm not going to college, and the "think about your future argument" doesn't really work for me. Although I tend to do bad on my normal grades, but I tend to get above 95% on all my tests.

My outlook has been making my dad somewhat mad, mainly because it "makes him look like an idiot" (which really means that he doesn't understand my logic behind it). It's getting to the point where he'll just say "Get the fuck out of my sight" everytime I even cross the hallway to get something. It's starting to get to the point where he's taking all my stuff away, which doesn't really affect me. This makes him more mad. He also tried kicking me out a few times, but due to the circumstances with my mother and the rest of my family, he can't do legally.

I do admit that a couple of weeks ago we had a pretty big fight, which I actually posted on Parenting SE, but we resolved it.

How do I get him to calm down?

  • 8
    What are you planning on doing with your life if you want to drop out of education?
    – Pyritie
    Mar 13, 2016 at 14:35
  • 8
    What are you planning on doing instead? Getting an apprenticeship? Doing something else productive? It sounds like your dad is upset because he feels like you're throwing your life away.
    – Pyritie
    Mar 14, 2016 at 10:12
  • 6
    Have you talked with any PNAs? I am not sure what the acronym stands for, but I assume it is an administrative position? The job market for unskilled labor is incredible tough, and I would assume that administrative assistants (which is a hard job) all do have a 2 or 4 year degree of some kind. Might not be in something related to their position, but a lot of value is put on the ability to complete an education.
    – Ida
    Mar 14, 2016 at 20:08
  • 5
    @DamienBochkarev if it were that simple, more people would be doing it. From personal experience I can tell you, it's not that simple.
    – user17694
    Jun 9, 2016 at 22:52
  • 2
    In modern America you are likely consigning yourself to a lifetime of poverty without a high school or college degree. Yes you can be successful, but more and more the jobs that don't require knowledge and training, and even some that are, are being replaced by automation. You don't want to be doing things that a robot can do with a little extra programming. Jul 19, 2017 at 14:36

7 Answers 7


You need a better plan, kid.

This will be a bit of a harsh answer, but you definitely seem smart and mature enough to deserve one. First of all, don't waste a single further breath explaining your "philosophical" objections to school, why you feel it's bullshit, to your dad. No dad has the slightest bit of regard for his son's "wisdom" on things like that. You need him to think of you as a man, but all that does is make you look, in his eyes, like a little kid. And you citing the reasons you cite for not continuing your education makes it seem like you don't know how the world works. Adults have to do plenty that is bullshit. You can fight the game after you beat it.

You say in your comments, contrary to your headline, that you don't want to drop out of high school. Well, I'll give you some unexpected advice: I suggest that you do. Or, rather, I suggest that you start studying, right now, for your GED. Study during your free time this summer (if you're not willing to do that, then you're not serious about any of this) and you should be ready for the test very soon; it's easy as hell. Then, you won't be someone who's coming to your dad as a snot-nosed ambitionless would-be dropout kid with no direction. You're coming to him as a man who took the initiative in his life, as few kids do. You're coming to him as someone who graduated high school early. A regular child prodigy!

Once you have your diploma in hand, you can start your work at the hospital. But first of all, I hope you like healthcare, rather than just saying, oh, it's there--because it is stressful as hell. Second of all, you need to have a long-term plan that includes advancement, because that is what all adults who are not losers want to have in their careers. In healthcare that will require more schooling. You might not have to be in school for four years, but you will have to be in school. For someone who doesn't want to be "'certified' for a particular skill," healthcare is one of the worst choices of career field you could make. Regardless, you may want to start looking into other potential fields as well that might interest you. Some may require some education right off the bat in some form; don't shy away from them, because all non-shitty careers eventually demand it. If life had to come up with a two-word motto it would be this: Acquire Skills.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough. Make a plan, know your plan, share it with Dad, and never fool yourself for a minute into thinking you can get away from either education or bullshit in general. Good luck and welcome to adulthood.

  • 5
    No dad has the slightest bit of regard for his son's "wisdom" on things like that. You need him to think of you as a man, but all that does is make you look, in his eyes, like a little kid. I would add that this changes later in life, but not that much :)
    – WoJ
    Jul 15, 2017 at 15:23
  • 2
    "you need to have a long-term plan that includes advancement, because that is what all adults who are not losers want to have in their careers." is this meant to the the 'Dad' perspective, or a general outlook? Because being happy where you are is far more important than advancement!
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 19, 2017 at 7:15
  • 6
    My youngest sister knew everything better at 15 years old, and failed all her O-levels except art. She was good at art and wanted to be an artist. The local tech accepted her as an art student and she got a little diploma. Then she discovered she wasn't Picasso after all. So she jobbed at a graphics company. By dint of hard work and intelligence she worked her way up to department leader. One day they decided to downsize, and the boss read all the CVs and the first to be sacked was this woman with no O-levels. She's still cycling through the low-paid boring, hard, repetitive jobs in the area.
    – RedSonja
    Jul 19, 2017 at 10:15
  • 4
    The harsh reality of telling a kid how it is. Just today my son learned that even though he started summer break, I however did not. "Well why?" "Because kid, adults don't get those." Harsh reality is that sometimes growing up is...well..bullshit. Jul 19, 2017 at 12:27

It's pretty hard for a parent to accept their child not going to college nowadays. There are lower number of job opportunities for a high school graduate and the pay is lower. My guess is your dad isn't very happy about your career move and doesn't know how to articulate it. My advice for you is two part.

My career advice is try some college courses online for FREE through edX, Coursera, Udacity, etc and see how you like it. Can you talk to a professor at a local university and see if you can sit in on his/her class? Volunteer at the hospital or talk with current older PNAs. See if the PNAs like their jobs and what kind of education they had. Then start budgeting how you much need to make to maintain your current lifestyle if you didn't live at home and worked as a PNA. Will you have to rent the rest of your life? Will you be about to afford your own home? What about how you might support your future family if you would like to have one?

My advice for handling your dad is to talk to him. Show him you have a plan. Show him your budget and the research you have done. Show him that you are capable of making a decision like a responsible individual.

EDIT: Also jobs with just a high school degree will be more likely to be categorize as repetitive, which is exactly what you didn't like about school.

  • if you look at the numbers, I think you'll find the opposite is true: the world is getting OVEReducated. There's a reason low-educated jobs are starting to pay more. Not enough people wanting to take those jobs anymore because everyone is going to college.
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 19, 2017 at 7:17
  • @WeckarE. - I think the reason more low-educated jobs are paying more is because the no-education adults are crying that they can't support their families while flipping burgers. There is a reason that cashiers are being replaced rather quickly. I expect to see almost all cashier positions automated within the next 5-10 years as increasing minimum wage makes paying people to do the job a robot could do financially silly. Also, as technology becomes increasingly cheaper, I expect the kinds of replaceable positions to steadily increase. Jul 27, 2017 at 16:06
  • I was thinking more along the lines of carpentry, plumbing, etc.
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 27, 2017 at 17:11
  • @WeckarE. It's technically true that jobs like carpentry and plumbing have lower education requirements, but many of them require years of apprenticeship and certification, which is basically just a non-traditional education. You don't tend to get into those job positions by chance or by dropping out and hoping for them to drop into your lap, so the advice to put together a better plan still stands.
    – Kevin
    Jul 28, 2017 at 19:20

I'm all for not going to college, but I'm way more for not working. As someone who thought that same thing let me warn you that after school you know what's there? work. tons of it and not always in a good way. It's a lot harder to go back than it is to go with it from high school. From my friends that went, it's not really the degree as much as the life experience, connections, and in general the atmosphere of college that you may never get to know if you choose to not go. Not really like the movies portray, don't get me wrong. But as one who went right from high school into the work force (even a very good job) I think back on it now and wonder how much I would have enjoyed going to college with my friends, doing whatever college kids do, and maybe avoiding the intensely difficult path of carving your way to an existence that doesn't involve desperation, settling for anything you can get, and generally just getting by. I did well in the end. Well enough I suppose. It is possible, but it was an intense challenge that required a lot more will power and perseverance than it would have taken if I had gone to college, at least for an AA.

To counterpoint, most people I know don't use their degree. The only person in my field I know with a real computer science degree was one of the worst programmers we hired. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it might help get you far enough where your personality and charisma take you the rest of the way. In the beginning, if getting a job is what you want, we're all just text on paper. These days, you'll probably be looked up on facebook or whatever and judged there as well. But if you have a passion, think about whether or not you can pursue that with college, without, and what you wouldn't mind learning about if that doesn't pan out.

My parents could see there was no use arguing with me about it. I just continued to do my own thing and it was accepted eventually. I did talk to them but in limited scope. I'd say the same things you sound like you're saying but they never got mad about it. It may have all been in the approach though. Arguing won't help. If it turns into an argument then maybe you can just nod and say ok then, walking off.

It will be your decision one way or another. Just think about what you're really choosing if you choose not to go.

  • The degree isn't always about learning the skills you will use, it's about demonstrating that they have the capability. Dec 26, 2016 at 10:38
  • As someone who is leaving the workforce to go back to school with money in the pocket... There's Always ways :)
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 19, 2017 at 7:18
  • @Weckar E - I'm not saying there aren't ways. For sure you can always go back to school. Just that the experience will be radically different if you're 10 years older and all your friends aren't there with you. My wife got her masters after having kids. It was not the college experience she had when she got her bachelors. She did both and enjoyed both. I did none and forever wonder what I missed out on.
    – Kai Qing
    Jul 19, 2017 at 20:02
  • @KaiQing That is quite likely true. Although is it that common to go to college with people you already know? I've never heard of that.
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 19, 2017 at 21:16
  • @Weckar E - You know, I'm not positive about that. My wife came from a very small town so all her friends did go with her. I guess in larger cities that may not be so true, but from high school you may be among people in your general age range. That could affect your social life on a more stereotypical college party level.
    – Kai Qing
    Jul 19, 2017 at 21:36

The "think about your future" argument is one of the most important arguments you can actually have.

It's just a fallacy to think that school is the only option for you to plan your future. While it was harder for your father when he was young, today we have the internet, mostly free or inexpensive libraries, so your access to knowledge is almost limitless.

I think if you have a believable future and your father sees you working diligently towards that, then he won't have that much of a problem.

Right now, your father may feel like a failure. He might feel responsible for you and he might feel like you are throwing your life away which in turn means throwing everything away that he did for you or didn't do instead.

So, start finding a future for you. Find out everything you need to learn for it and start planning. Write goals down, turn them into projects, structure them and set deadlines. Show your father that your future matters. Give your life a good purpose and work towards it. Course correct often so you head in the right direction.

And make it transparent to your father so he can appreciate the effort.


I want to offer an alternative to the 'going to college is the right choice' argument that you're getting from your father and from others here.

I think the idea that you have to go to college/university right out of high school stems from the baby boomer generation's experience - where people tended to be on the same career track for life - and where going to university made all the difference in terms of what career you could have.

To allow you to understand - the fear is, that if you don't go to university now - you never will, and you'll be stuck working deadend jobs for the rest of your life. If you're interested, I write more about it here.

We no longer live in that society. Two key things are different:

  • It's now very common for people to change career track more than once in their life. Lots of people these days train in one thing, and then change to something completely different in their late twenties or thirties.
  • College now costs a lot of money, and studying saddles you with a large debt.

It's something I'm seeing commonly from my 31 year old perspective - young people going to university, studying the arts, racking up a $30k student loan while doing so, and then having no plan coming out of it.

That was basically my experience personally - I went to university aged 17. Finished my degree, then bummed around doing unskilled labour for a few years, before returning to university aged 26 to do a second degree in computer science.

So by all means - don't go to university, just because 'it's the done thing'.

However - I would echo what some other posters have said - you do need a plan, which you haven't really elaborated in your post.

Personally - I think working in factories, manual labor, or in hospitality is a perfectly legitimate move. As a young person you'll have far more tolerance for it, than you will as a thirty-something year old.

Bottom line:

  • It's a perfectly good move to work low end jobs and just enjoy yourself when you're younger and working things out.
  • However, you do need to have a plan.

How to deal with your dad

With that as a context - here's what I suggest for dealing with your dad.

Firstly, you need to articulate just what your reasoning is for the life decisions you make. I would suggest putting it into writing - personally I find that's a useful way to sort out what I'm thinking about things.

Secondly, I would take this to your father and have a discussion with him. Perhaps the best thing would be to print what you've written and let him read it, and hopefully you can have a more clear headed discussion. I think what's important is for you to demonstrate that you are thinking clearly about this issue.

The important thing to highlight - is what you'll be doing instead of going to school. It's understandable that someone will think you're making the wrong decision if you don't have a plan.

Finally - if this fails to resolve things with your father - then I think you need accept a non-functional relationship with him. Perhaps talk to you mother about it, or otherwise avoid him.

  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the parenting part of the question -- how can the OP work with the parent in the situation to reach an understanding?
    – Acire
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:59
  • @Erica - Fair point. I updated my answer.
    – dwjohnston
    Jul 19, 2017 at 21:43

If you get 95s on your tests, then presumably you get bad grades because you don't bother with the homework?

If so, you might want to reconsider your decision not to go to college. At college, usually most of your grade is based on your tests; the homework is just there in case you think you need practice.

In the meantime, if there are classes that are too boring, ask your dad if he can help arrange for you to take the final exam for the class and place out of it so you can go on to something more interesting.

  • This doesn't really answer the parenting part of the question -- how can the OP work with the parent in the situation to reach an understanding?
    – Acire
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:59
  • @Erica - Did you miss the "ask your Dad" part?
    – Warren Dew
    Jul 20, 2017 at 20:16
  • It's pretty sparse advice, buried under your perspective on the value of academics. Is it that simple?
    – Acire
    Jul 20, 2017 at 20:37
  • This advice also depends heavily on the school, and even within the school it depends on the professor. In my college experience I had some classes that were heavily test based, and many that were heavily dependent on attendance, homework, and participation
    – Kevin
    Jul 28, 2017 at 19:24

Sorry, but there is no free lunch.

You do not want other people telling you what to do? You do not want other people forcing you to do what you do not like?

Sure. That's what I want avoid too. The problem is you need independence for that. You need money. Money is the thing that you can throw at people to make them shut up, go away and stop bothering you. (There are other uses too.)

To get to ever do whatever you really want, you need to become independent. To get enough that you do not depend on other people. And for that you need to do some work. You might do lots of low-paid repetitive mind-crushing uninteresting work. Or some higher-paid and often much more interesting work. To get the latter you need to get the required skills and education.

You can "endure" some HS now and be freer or you can endure/suffer much more uninspiring things for the rest of your life. The choice is yours.

>How do I get him to calm down?

You need to present him a compelling plan that describes how you're planning to become independent and productive member of society.

Right now he just does not understand you. He raised you and lived with you for many years. He thought that he knew you, knew how you think. Then all of a sudden you started acting unpredictable and irrational. Your father no longer understands you and this is where alienation comes from. You could have accomplished this cognitive dissonance in many different ways (e.g. declaring "Let's paint all ceilings black to end world hunger." or "Rich people donate lots of money to charity, so I donated all our family money so that we become rich too" etc.).

Now you need to restore the understanding. You need to present the full plan with all vague or risky parts worked out. Why are you making each decision? Why is it better than other possible actions? How is the end result better? What's your definition of success? What can go wrong? How are you going to deal with that? What "Plan B"s do you have? This might work out, but you need to prepare a very convincing story. It's the same thing you do when you want to convince investors to give your money for your startup.

  • This doesn't really answer the parenting part of the question -- how can the OP work with the parent in the situation to reach an understanding?
    – Acire
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:59

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