Yesterday evening I had a long chat with my youngest son. There had been a couple of days of him taking himself off for hours on end out of school and not coming home and the police had got involved. I spoke to him about the need for him to be in school and how we were compelled to provide full-time education for him until the age of 16.
He told me that basically, we couldn’t make him do anything. I acknowledged that this was correct, that he always had the choice whether or not to go along with what we wanted of him. But it was also true that he had to then take the consequences that his choices would bring. And his behaviour could completely alienate him.
I realised that if we were able to offer my son anything that was of enough value to him, then he would make the choice to attend class, putting him back in control.
After long talks we were able to reach an agreement, make a sort of contract with him, speaking to his values and linking these with his attendance at school. There was no forcing or pressurising in it – it was simply valuable enough to him to make a choice that would work for us all. For the time being at least.
So we had a strenuous day of the school monitoring him lesson by lesson with phonecalls home to us to ensure he stayed in school today and he came home with a clean record and we were able to deliver our half of the bargain. We still have many hoops to jump through with the school but it was his choice to be there and that was what brought success.
We are still at the beginning and will navigate each day as it comes over the next few months. Finding a way to have everyone’s values met is key. It bypasses struggle and ensures everyone is heard.
Focussing on making conscious choices.