Comments for Is it child abuse when parents refuse financial help for college?

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Aug 07, 2008
Not child abuse...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Karen, while your parents are perhaps misusing their power, threats of, or actually withholding, financial assistance for continuing education does not constitute child abuse. Financial assistance by parents is a "gift" not a guarantee. While some might say that the mere threat of withholding funds is emotionally abusive, the fact is, your parents have the right to decide where and how their money is spent, unfair as that may sound to you at this moment in time.

But that does not mean you cannot follow the career of your choice. Yes, going through college without the financial aide of one's parents can be extremely challenging; I don't deny that, since I've been there myself. As an older teen, I worked full-time at night and went to classes during the day in order to finish high school (grades 11 and 12—I completed all but 2 course credits because after 18 months I was too fatigued to continue). However, later, in my twenties, I worked full-time and went to school at night at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for several years in order to acquire a business management certificate; which I successfully obtained. Even today, two decades later, I still feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride for achieving such a difficult feat and for following my heart. The fact that I did so independently makes the achievements even sweeter.

Karen, there comes a point in every person's life where they have to make decisions for themselves, without allowing themselves to be manipulated or coerced into doing what they either don't want to do or are not passionate about. Sometimes the manipulation or coercion comes from family; sometimes it comes from other sources. Either way, it seems you are at that point now. This is a perfect opportunity for you to do what I call "adult up," meaning stand up and be a grown up.

If you are not prepared to enrol in the college course that your parents want you to enrol in, then you have to accept that they will not provide the financing for your continuing education. It is what it is. I suggest you take the mature stance here and tell them simply and respectfully, "Thank you Mum and Dad for the offer of financial assistance for the course you want me to take, but I've decided on a different path." Then set about to finding some other form of financial assistance or education alternatives (bursaries, scholarships, working yourself, night-school rather than day time options for your education, part-time rather than full-time school options, correspondence options, etc.) I am of the belief that when we want something badly enough, we will find a way to obtain it, if not at the moment, further down the road.

I wish you all the best in your educational endeavours, Karen.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir


Sep 11, 2010
It is quite mean to do so
by: Tim L.

I think it certainly is abusive for parents to take this step of conditional support that may limit their child's ability to become what they want to be (which the parent ignores and doesn't respect) or even attend college at all. I know someone who, when he came out as gay, his parents cut him off and as a result he wasn't able to finish his degree at all. I certainly consider that hateful, inconsiderate act to be abusive.

This tactic of control and manipulation certainly would not be an anomaly, and points to a parenting style full of all the typical child-hate, spanking, and emotional abuse that most people see as normal. So I would say the person's parents are quite cruel.

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