Finish high school, go to college for 4 years, get a good, entry-level job in your career area and work your way up the ladder. This path equals a happy life and success in the current American culture; however, does this really equal a happy life and success?


Our dear son (DS) graduated from high school and attended community college. His first semester was a disaster. He had done well in high school with being on the A or B honor roll as the norm. Academically he could do the work, yet managing his time proved to be a problem. In the long run, he couldn’t see the reasons why he was attending college.


DS worked at the local grocery store throughout his high school years. When he returned home from college, he went back to work at the grocery store. Our son enjoys his job and takes pride in the work he does at the store. In fact, when we go to other grocery stores, the first thing he does is check the date on any deli foods to make sure they are fresh. Is he happy? Is he successful? I would have to say “yes” to both questions.


The acceptance of my son’s life choices can be difficult for me. I went to college, had a great experience and went to work in my career area. I believed in the American pathway to happiness and success. Do I still believe in this pathway? Not anymore.  My son is creating his own path and my job is to assist him when he asks for help and give him experiences he needs to become a successful adult. I need to love him for who he is and for the choices he is making for himself. Can acceptance be possible when my dream for my son and his dream for himself are not a match? Yes, and I am working on accepting his choices for his life every day.


Photo Credit:

Norman Toth

Kathy Magnusson M.Ed.

Kathy Magnusson, M. Ed, support parents in creating educational options for their teen. She has been in the field of education for over 20 years and is passionate in engaging young adults in unleashing their unique brilliance. As an educator and coach, Kathy has supported parents in finding ways to help their teen feel more capable and confident. When she’s not chasing after her own four teens on a farm near Roseau, MN, you can find her serenely kayaking or relaxing with a good book at the family lake cabin in Ontario, Canada.

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