Originally published in our Laudable Life advice column in the Lakelands Leader
Q: I’m a first generation Asian-American and I have my heart set on going to a school in Hawaii. We can easily afford it; but my father is uncomfortable with this and is threatening to withhold financial support to stop me from going. What should I do?
A: Oh no. We’re sorry to hear that. Tension with parents over college choices can be so stressful. First of all, it’s important to validate your father’s concerns. Although it may seem counter intuitive, you need to let him voice his feelings. It sounds like he is so against you going this far away for college that he’s willing to pull out all the stops to prevent you from going. Is this about his safety fears for you, or is it about missing you, or something else? Letting him tell you his concerns in detail will guide you in how to respond.
If the situation has been escalating for a while, you may need professional to get this resolved. A few sessions of family therapy- even if you have to be the one to pay for it out of pocket yourself – could be a worthwhile investment into a healthier relationship with your father. In addition, in the long run it would be more cost effective then taking on substantial student debt to go to the school of your dreams just because your father did not agree and would not release the college funds. Sometimes, people won’t budge on their decisions. Realize that in the end, you may need to decide whether you are willing to forego their financial support to attend the school of your choice because of the strings attached or if it’s better to be flexible in where you go and take their support.