A few years ago, my son Ryan was dangerously close to flunking out of high school. And let me tell you—we’d tried everything. Regular high school. Online high school. After-school programs. Tutors. Therapy. Discipline. Bribes. Crying. Hugs. Desperate pleas.
Nothing worked. After months of tearful conversations, arguments, and micromanaging all of Ryan’s schoolwork, I made a big decision.
I decided to step away.
I decided to let Ryan make his own decisions—and deal with his own consequences. I told him: “Honey, this is your life. I love you. But I’m done with all the nagging, hovering, and trying to ‘make’ you do your schoolwork. If you want to flunk out, that’s on you.”
It was a pivotal moment for Ryan—and for me. And I knew it was an experience I wanted to write about.
I wrote down the story and—after lots of consideration—I decided to post it on my blog. I titled the piece, “Why I’m letting my teenager flunk out of high school—if he wants to.”
I wasn’t sharing this story for “no reason.” I had a specific message I wanted to impart. I wanted parents to know: “If you’re struggling with your kid, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent, and you’re definitely not alone.” I also wanted parents to know: “Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to step away—and give your kid a chance to make their own decisions, and grow up.”
When I published that blog post, I felt pretty terrified. At the time, it was one of the most vulnerable, stripped-bare things I’d ever written. I worried that people wouldn’t “get” what I was trying to say. I worried that some of my clients might think I’m a terrible mom, and they wouldn’t trust me anymore.
But instead of all those terrible consequences, here’s what happened instead:
So much gratitude.
After I published that blog post, dozens of parents emailed me to say: “Thank you for saying that.” “I’m dealing with something similar.” “I’ve been feeling so alone.” “I’ve been so hard on myself, blaming myself so harshly. Your blog post helped me feel better.” “Please keep me posted on how Ryan is doing.” “You inspired me to have an important conversation with my daughter.” “I loved this.” “Best thing you’ve ever written.”
And on and on. “Why I’m letting my teenager flunk out of high school—if he wants to.” remains, to this day, one of the most-read, most-shared posts I’ve ever written. I still get emails about it—even years later.
The moral of the story…
That thing you’re so afraid to say?
That post you’re so scared to publish?
That story you don’t think you’re ever allowed to tell?
Maybe you should.
I’m not saying you *have* to. But maybe you should.
Because it could wind up being the most important thing you ever share.
Because your words could reach someone—a mom, dad, kid, blog reader or client who lives thousands of miles away—and it could shift their course of their life.
Because when we crack open our hearts and share what’s really going on in our lives—the messy stuff, the rawness, the realness—it transforms people. People feel less alone. People feel less ashamed. People feel braver and stronger. All of that can happen, all because you found the courage to say: “This is my story. Here’s what happened to me. Here’s what I learned. And here’s what I want you to know.”
For someone out there—someone feeling confused, uncertain, unmotivated, irritated, or feeling so much pain—your story could be day-changing, or even life-changing.
Your story could be the medicine they need.
PS. I hear from a lot of people who say, “Susan, I wish I could write like you. I want to write about ‘real life’ and touch people’s hearts, but I don’t know how to do that…” and people also say, “Susan, it’s crazy how you’re able to send out so many new blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, and e-books every single month. How do you do that?”
If you want to learn some writing tips and practices from me, check out my new class: DIG DEEP.
It’s a writing class that I created in partnership with my writing coach, Alexandra Franzen. (If you don’t know Alex, prepare to fall in love, just like I have!)
DIG DEEP is an online class. Independent study. Work at your pace. No deadlines or time pressure. You can get all the materials with a deposit of just $47. I’m pretty damn sure you’re going to LOVE this. susanhyatt.co/digdeep/
PPS. If you’re wondering how the Ryan story ends… well, it doesn’t end. It’s still unfolding. But the latest chapter is that he’s graduating. I bought his cap and gown a few days ago. And he got accepted to his top college choice. He intends to major in Journalism. Miracles. They happen.