Student sits beside suitcases

What do you do when your kid is sent home from college?

As more and more kids go to college – more and more kids seem to be sent home from college after a semester or two! So how do you handle it when your immature adult child (who made some stupid mistakes) is asked to leave school?

One of my sons (let’s call him Brian) was caught engaging in activities that went against school policy and was asked to leave the school for the rest of the semester.

Of course, my husband Tom and I were devastated – as was Brian.  “Let’s bring him home,” was our first reaction.

Then I started to think about it. Would rescuing Brian by letting him come home really help him? He was a 21-year-old young man who needed to take hold of his life and stop making stupid choices. How would bringing him home help Brian learn that lesson?

Tom and I went head to head on this. As I mentioned in my article Which Parent is in Charge?, we had learned to get on the same page – but this was tough. I felt that Brian needed to take hold, and we needed to let go. My heart broke, but I could see he needed to feel the total effect of his failure and not be rescued by us. Tom was not so sure.

Believe it or not, Tom picked up The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have and re-read Priorities 5, 6, and 7 (Value Success and Failure, Allow Obstacles to Become Opportunities, and Take Hold and Let Go). Tom came to me tearfully that next day and said, “You are right. He has to figure out something else to do. We cannot rescue him.”

We called Brian and let him know. He was lucky. Brian called his uncle in Louisiana who was willing to let him come live with him for a time – if he paid rent and had a job. Brian moved there and worked at a restaurant. His uncle treated him as an adult. He was expected to help take care of the yard, the house, his turn cooking – and pay rent. He learned to be a good waiter – and he learned that he did not want to be a waiter for the rest of his life!

Brian called his school towards the end of the semester and convinced them to give him another shot. He went back to college and graduated two years later. Today, he has a great job and lives across the country. He is fiercely independent and is grateful for his education. He is a responsible worker who has earned accolades at his company. Brian is praised for his integrity and his work ethic.

I sometimes wonder – if we had not had the courage to let him feel the consequences of his actions, where would he be today? I’m grateful I was able to take hold of my belief in him (that he could figure it out) and let go of the outcome.