“If you don’t go to college and do something with your life, you are getting kicked out of this house.” Harsh words to hear as Kelley stared blankly at her Dad. She knew he wouldn’t actually kick her out, and that this was just a popular saying of parents desperate to motivate their child, but she realized then and there: it was time to figure out her future.

For as long as she can remember, Kelley was an average student, getting grades of C’s and D’s with an occasional B. “Let me reassure you those ‘bad boy’ B’s would be getting a place of honor on the refrigerator door. I went to school for the social aspect. I was a jokester. I studied just enough to pass.”

Fast forward to high school and she was still just doing the bare minimum. “When it came to my senior year, the excitement of looking forward to the future caught me by surprise. Everyone was asking: Where are you going to college? In state or out of state? What are you going to study? The excitement was unreal!”

As you may have figured out, Kelley was not looking towards college. She wanted to graduate and start working. “One day, while watching TV, my Dad asked what my plans were after I graduated from high school. Clearly ‘working’ was not a good enough answer and he said, ‘If you do not go to college, you are getting kicked out of the house.’”

“Terrible timing for him to lay that load of bricks on me because it was late in my senior year. I missed the deadlines for applying to colleges or to improve my grades. So, I decided to apply to a community college that was about 10 minutes from my house. I lived at home and commuted to school every day.” And Kelley’s dad supported her: motivating her to get on-track and offering many “life-lesson” talks as Kelley matured. Kelley learned how to study. She learned that if she applied herself and paid attention, she could get good grades and subsequently, found herself enjoying learning.

“I enjoyed school so much that I decided to transfer to a four-year university after receiving my associate degree in Psychology. Two years later, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Family Science.”

“I was afraid if I tried and failed, that meant I wasn’t smart enough. But my dad continually reminded me that everyone goes through failures.” The key difference Kelley could deploy was the act of getting up and trying again. “He allowed me to break down that fear of failing and gave me hope for a better life because of higher education. Today I am so proud of the life I created for myself because of my Dad.”

A little tough love, coupled with the support she needed, did Kelley some good on her path to college. When I asked Kelley what message she hopes to send through this story, she says, “I think back to this time in my life and realize if my Dad did not believe in me, I would not be where I am today. So, take a moment this Father’s Day and let your Dad know how much you appreciate him.”

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