Part 1: Expelled from School—Riding the Roller Coaster
If your child has recently been expelled from school, this may be an uncertain time for your family. You have suddenly been forced to take a new direction in your child’s education. While the educational journey has taken a turn, you may also find yourself on a bit of an emotional roller coaster.
While you are riding the waves of emotion it can be comforting to find that you are not riding alone. Many parents have been—and are currently—in your place, researching what to do when their child is expelled from school. In fact, according to a 2006 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, over 100,000 public elementary and secondary school students are expelled each year. Remembering this can help you maintain perspective. And while you are realizing you are not alone, send up a prayer for those families, too.
This article is Part 1 of a three-part series on processing and responding to a child being expelled from school. In the coming weeks, you will also learn:
Part 1: How to deal with your own emotions about your child being expelled.
Part 2: How to help your child work through their emotions about being expelled.
Part 3: How to discover the source of the problem and how to get your child back on track in his or her education.
Dealing with Your Emotions
It is never easy for parents to hear the news that their child has been expelled from school. The weeks and months after a child is expelled can have their ups and downs, but all roller coasters end eventually. Do your best to keep moving forward, and remember that even this can work out for good.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Students can be expelled from school for many different reasons, and parents face many complex emotions: You may feel angry, embarrassed, depressed, and at some points, hopeful.
“Stay in your seat come times of trouble. It’s only people who jump off the roller coaster who get hurt.” Paul Harvey
It is normal to initially feel very angry at your child, the school system, and even the world. Although it’s difficult, it is important that you find a way to bring yourself out of the anger and into a productive, problem-solving mode. Exhibiting anger can cause your child to shut down, and expressing anger toward the school may result in the school becoming defensive.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31
Instead of letting your anger get the best of you, take a deep breath, accept your current situation, and make it your mission to fully understand the situation and its root cause. Keep in mind that when your child has been expelled from school, you have the right to fully understand the situation in order to protect your child’s right to an education. For example, you can have an expulsion hearing before any school district decisions are finalized.
In addition to dealing with anger, many parents have a strong feeling of embarrassment when their child is expelled from school. It is important to recognize that God has given your child a free will, and this is an example of them exercising their free will, although it is contrary to your expectations. Expulsion is neither a reflection of your parenting nor the desires of your heart. In spite of this, you may find it difficult to tell your family and friends. You may worry about the judgement of others, and whether your child will still be accepted by members of your church.
This is a good time to be firm, yet supportive of your child. Despite our sins, God chose not to be ashamed of us, but to give Himself on our behalf. You have an opportunity to model this unconditional acceptance to your child. Many times, if a parent stands strong with their child, others will follow suit and there will be no need to feel embarrassed.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Unresolved anger and embarrassment are strong emotions that can cause a lot of damage in our lives and relationships. As a parent, it is very important to clear up these negative emotions in order to model Christ’s love for your family. Call upon the grace of God to exhibit this in love towards your child and the others who are involved in the situation. In this way, you can begin moving towards a solution and hope for your child’s educational future.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Throughout all of this, you may begin doubting your parenting skills. Remember that children go through things in life that are beyond our control as parents. Our children are individuals and their behaviors are not always a reflection of our desires for their life. Remember that this roller coaster ride will end and that God holds your family in the palm of His hand.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13
Lastly, it is important that you work on self care during this time: get some exercise, read your Bible, meditate on God, or engage in some activity that helps you to relax and feel at peace. It is also a good idea to find a good Christian friend to talk with during this time, someone who can remind you that God is shaping your story, and He is both good and powerful. Stay the course, remain close with God and exude his grace to both your child and yourself. You will be restored before you know it.
If you are researching academic options for your child who has recently been expelled from school, consider an online school that can help you navigate the rollercoaster of negative emotions that so often arise. Enlightium Academy provides a structured learning environment with the flexibility of learning from home, all with a Christian worldview. For many families, this is the solution that best fits their needs.
Although this may be a difficult time for you and your child, it is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. You have options, and things will improve with patience, forgiveness, restoration, and hope.