Question: Our son is about to graduate from high school, and he’s asked us how we feel about him taking a year off school before starting university. He’s very responsible in a number of ways, but we’re concerned about him losing momentum. Besides, if he isn’t a full-time student, he’ll lose his health insurance coverage under our policy. What should we do?


Apparently you’ve done a great job of raising this boy. He sounds like a thoughtful, intelligent, goal-oriented kid. Given what you’ve told us about his level of maturity and keen sense of personal responsibility, we see no reason to be concerned about his desire to take a year off from school.

We’d even suggest that there are a number of constructive ways he can use the time. He can work in order to earn a portion of his college tuition. He can expand and build upon his formal education by travelling or getting involved with community service. He can think about life and ponder his goals and figure out what he wants to study in college. All of this can be an important part of growing up and becoming the person God is calling him to be. As for "losing momentum," chances are that he’ll be even more motivated to dive into his studies after a year-long break – especially when he realizes that many career choices won’t be open to him without a university degree.

Responsibility for consequences

You’re absolutely right, of course, about his health insurance. If he’s not a full-time student, he won’t be covered under your policy. You’ll need to discuss the implications of that aspect of the situation with him. Help him understand that he will need to take responsibility for his own insurance and strongly encourage him to resist the temptation to forego coverage as a way of saving a few dollars. If he opts to work full-time during his year off, it would be advisable to look for a job that offers health benefits. Another option would be to sign up for an individual health plan that’s limited to catastrophic coverage rather than routine medical care. Such policies are far lower in cost, though they typically involve larger out-of-pocket expenses each month. You can get your insurance agent to help you examine the various options.

Again, in light of what you’ve said about your son’s track record to this point, we wouldn’t be too concerned about his plans to take a year off. There are many successful people in the world who didn’t go to university right out of high school. The most important thing at this point is to uphold your son with love, support and gentle guidance in whatever he decides to do. If you need some help in this area, Focus on the Family Canada’s counselling staff would be more than happy to speak with you over the phone. You can reach them Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific time at 1.800.661.9800.

© 2010 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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