This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Life after high school - college, career and lifestyle

Apparently Bear told his therapist that he was still planning on moving out when he's 17 (more on this in a later post). Hubby says he thinks the therapist is asking Bear to do a budget for living on his own.

At the same time, because the girls are in 8th grade this year they are supposed to be doing transition planning for high school. This means they have to start deciding what they want to be and do after high school so they can choose a "track." (Which I think is crazy! What 8th grader knows what they want to "major" in? Yes, they're told they can change tracks, but it means they'll have missed out on some of the classes needed (which means they'll be behind) and will have taken classes they can't use now (which means they'll become electives, preventing the child from exploring other options through elective classes - maybe discovering a love for art or animal sciences).

Bob will most likely choose a college track and want AP classes (advanced placement) as well as some other courses required for college like foreign language and higher levels of math. She'll also want to start trying out electives in the fields she's interested in. Currently Bob intends to become a lawyer (my fault totally - whenever she argued or tried to get away with something on a technicality, I told her she was going to be a lawyer when she grew up - is that called self-fulfilling prophecy if it's Mom's fault?). Of course I think she'd still prefer to be a wizard, but Hogwarts is not accepting Muggles without magic right now.

Kitty, like Bear, will not be on the college track. Because of her special education classes she will graduate with what I call a "Diploma Light" she will need to attend at least 2 years of community college before being ready (assuming she ever is) for a regular 4 year college. Kitty had decided quite some time ago that she was going to be a surgeon. We questioned why she didn't want to be a vet since she professes to love animals, but she claimed she didn't want to see animals in pain (people in pain are fine obviously). She has this all worked out. She's going to become a rich surgeon and she and her husband (I'm not sure who it is currently - used to be Jesse McCartney) are going to open an animal shelter. We have discussed the fact that surgeons need approximately 16 years of schooling, but not discussed her academic abilities as they relate to this. Recently we had to fill out a transition readiness survey for her - umm, let's just say it's a good thing we've got 4 1/2 yrs to help her get situated in reality.

We've been working with the school for quite awhile about Bear's career goals. Bear's current goals are not feasible due to his mental illness. Military will not take him and as far as we can tell neither will the police force (this is a good thing, because believe me you don't want my son to have a gun!). His only other stated goal is to be a lawyer, but we all know he would not be able to get through law school. We talked to the school's career counselor, but he says that they no longer have the great software they used to have for helping children find careers (CHIPs?) and the software they have instead is broken... great! So Bear continues to float in limbo, assuming he will be able to meet his current goals and therefore not even trying to find ones that work. We would prefer to find a new course before we sink the ship he's on.

(We do eventually have conversations with Kitty and Bear regarding vocational goals vs skills and abilities, that's how I got my official title, "Dreamkiller.")

For quite awhile Hubby and I have been planning on doing a Money 101 class so this seemed as good a time as any. During a family meeting, Hubby talked about needs, wants, and extras, and income. He gave the kids homework to write down what they wanted and how much it would cost. Love ya Hubby, but even I found the assignment abstract and confusing.

As part of Bob's school work, she had to fill out a bunch of online surveys. Some of them involved careers that met her interests and I spent over an hour explaining different careers - what an agricultural engineer, adjudicator, production assistant... are and do (I had to look a lot of them up!).

One such survey was called Texas Reality Check, and it was a fascinating tool that allowed you to figure out how much your chosen lifestyle would cost and therefore what kind of career you need to afford that. Bear didn't get a chance to do it, but the other kids did, and I had to laugh at Kitty's choices. Her luxury apartment and lifestyle meant she had to make at least $79K a year, but that's OK, because surgeons make $189K. We did talk about how she would live during those 16 years she was in school.

Then we went to an apartment locator, and talked about what was available and how much it would cost (the reality check numbers were a little off on apartment costs I think). We talked about how you would do your laundry, bus routes, whether or not there were jobs nearby, grocery stores, gated communities and the reputation of the complex - one complex she said would not be safe for the girls, that older building meant higher utilities.... We still might show them actual apartments. I haven't decided yet.

Next - Grocery shopping


Miz Kizzle said...

My husband and I are both lawyers. We make good livings but it's not the open sesame to fabulous riches that many people believe it to be and there is a lot of hard work. Some weeks we work 80 hours.
I read a study in a law journal recently that said 80 percent of last year's law school grads have yet to find jobs in their chosen field.
Eighty percent.
I sincerely doubt bear would be able to handle the stress and the tremendous amount of studying necessary to earn a law degree..
I've said before that he might consider becoming an investigator for a law firm or for a prosecutor's office.
As for Kitty becoming a surgeon, from what you write about her abilities I'd say it would be impossible. She would need top grades and the ability to work very long hours. I have friends who are surgeons and they work like dogs to pay their malpractice insurance.
Again, it's no open sesame to the luxe life.
Maybe she could become a phlebotomist or a radiologist but I think even that would be iffy.

marythemom said...

Miz Kizzle,

You are absolutely correct in that Kitty and Bear both will be lucky if they are capable of getting an associates degree. Their intellectual ability just does not support their dreams. Kitty's entire motivation is money on this job choice - will be interesting to see what else she comes up with when she realizes this.

I will let Bob know what you said about the 80% for those endeavoring to find jobs in their field. Should be interesting. Her other choices were farmer and something in media?! She's an interesting kid.

r. said...

Just out of curiosity, does "their chosen field" mean field of law (e.g., criminal, family, international, etc.) or practicing law vs. not practicing law? (I ask this as a second-year law student.)

There are lots of law students whose chosen field is working in the big firms (who until the recession hired many students from the top-tier law schools, at well over $100k starting salary). Those same graduates may have found decent employment, just not the type they were hoping for (and maybe not the type they were counting on when they took out their school loans).

Anonymous said...

My 21-year-old's career goal is to make it big in Vegas. My daughter wants to decorate cakes (but would not consider practicing with non-food as the whole point was to eat what you make).

On the bright side, my 8-year-old keeps saying he wants to be a scientist but was making C's in math. Turns out he never bothered to learn his addition and subtraction facts. I told him point-blank that he could not be a scientist if he wasn't good at addition. Next day he installed a math program I bought and played on it for over an hour. He's gotten a lot better already.