The Timing of Telling My Parents My College Plans.
I know that at some point I have to tell my parents that I'm planning to go to college. I basically have two options:
1. Tell them early. Or,
2. Tell them right before I leave.
In the case of the first option, here are the pros and cons:
Pros: My parents will have time to prepare themselves for my departure. I can quit faking sooner. And I don't have to make up an excuse for why I'm taking the ACT.
Cons: My parents may decide that I have to leave the house if I'm not going to meetings or out in service, and if they do let me stay, then there will be awkwardness due to the fact that I'm not participating in the religion and they are.
In the second case:
Pros: I can tell them my plans and then promptly leave, escaping too much questioning and the elders. And it might be more of a smooth transition, because I won't have to keep living with witnesses after I'm "out."
Cons: My parents won't have any warning that I'm leaving, and I will have to fake it for a longer time.
Overall, I think there is more risk involved with the first option, because I could be kicked out of the house before I'm ready to leave. However, I may go that route anyway, because if I give them warning that I'm leaving, then the ball is in their court and they have to decide whether to let me stay or not. If I don't give them that advance notice, then they will likely be shocked and very upset because of me just suddenly leaving.
And choosing the first option brings up more questions, like, how early is early enough/too early?
My daughter started college as a commuter at age 17 when I was still a JW. Her faded unbelieving father and I were committed to paying for all costs including commuting.
The day our daughter turned 18, she put her bags by the front door, informed us that she had taken out a loan for the co-ed dorm and was moving out. This was exceedingly painful for me at the time, and our relationship was strained for ten years after. We are absolutely fine now.
As a parent, I would vote for giving your parents a head's up, but only you can decide if you are ready to go it alone if they kick you out.
Wishing you all the best,
You're never going to be able to prevent your parents from getting upset over stuff. Especially if you don't agree with their thinking.
Do the best thing for yourself. In the end, that's the best thing for them too.
Speaking as a parent, LOL! ripping the bandaid off all at once prevents a lot of drama. jmo, of course.
Maybe approach it more like "how would you feel about me going to college?"
That way you can gauge their reaction and make it more concrete (to them) or not. It also gives them more time to get used to it - even if the initial reaction is that the sky is falling, it's hard to maintain any level of panic for too long.
Who knows, they may even be supportive once they get used to the idea - why miss out on that?
1. How old are you now and how old will you be when you start college?
2. Are you baptized?
3. Why do you have to stop going to all the meetings if you are going to college. The two are not mutually exclusive and your parents could very well be helped by your attending once in a while, even if you do not like it.
4. Simon has a great suggestion for opening the discussion.
5. Do you have somewhere else to go in the meantime? Would your parents "kick" you out, or would they take the tack of trying to keep you close so that they could run interference if possible?
6. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: Good for you for considering your options in an attempt to maximize your success and minimize the hurt to your parents. Do you think one or the other of them might secretly wish for you to obtain a college education?
I like your use of Pros and Cons - it is an excellent strategy for thinking through in more concrete detail what you would do in the event that you took either action (tell them early or tell them late).
As others have said, your parents will be upset which ever action you take and you will learn one important lesson on life (perhaps you have already learnt it): Sometimes, no matter how considerate you try to be of others' feelings, they will "get" hurt". Just do your best to react in a skilful way so that a difficult situation does not become far worse by any of your own hurt responses to their hurt. You don't want it to descend into a battle of "I hurt more than you do!" exchanges - which, in one form or another, go downhill really quickly. There's nothing quite like hurt people having an argument over hurt feelings. Watch out!
Your pros and cons seem very clear. My question to you is, how do you plan to afford college and support yourself independently if your parents are not supportive at all and maybe shun you? My best guess is that your parents don't have a college account for you, so that means that you are going to come up with the way to pay for college. Even with financial help and loans, there are still a lot, and I mean a lot of expenses related to college.
Tapioca also has a point when mentioned that going to meetings and going to college don't have to be mutually exclusive, and trust me, I saw that a lot. The last congregation I went to was in a college town, and all the time there were new JWs that started coming to meetings in that congregation because they started college. I now realize that to many of those courageous people, going to meetings in that congregation was part of their fading. I saw them starting in the congregation and slowly but surely detaching from it. Trust me, you are not the very first person going to college to run away from parents and all other stuff, JW or not.
My suggestion is to make sure that you don't get overwhelmed with leaving the JWs, not having support, and having to support yourself at the same time that you attend and pay for college. It is a lot to deal with all at once, Trust me, I know. Plan, plan, plan. Then plan again.
It may make a difference if you tell them that you will go somewhere local, and keep going to meetings with them.
My son stayed at home, went to meetings, so we had to endure the occasional comments and experiences at assemblies, where future nuclear physicists related how happy they were to be janitors serving Jehovah.
When he graduated, everyone was surprised at how quickly he had finished school. He got a great job, and was considered a prize catch for the lucky sister that snagged him.
He's a ministerial servant now, highly regarded in his congregation, though I hope that the cognizant dissonance will begin to kick in eventually. We used to have many family discussions about the flood and how long man has been in existence, so I know he has many doubts.
Are you financially able to move out? Can you live at the college dorm? Is your college in another town? Your parents, as others have pointed out, are likely to be upset regardless of how you handle the situation. If you don't have any money set aside, can you get a part-time job and start saving? You don't have to decide today. Take your time.
You know your parents better then we do, what would they probably do should be the question and answer to which one you choose.