1. Don’t judge a book by its
cover. Seniors are more apprehensive than they look. Touchiness may
mask anxiety about "getting in" or leaving friends and family.
2. It’s not where they go that
matters: it’s what they do when they get there. What college students do
with the opportunities at their college is
generally more important than what particular school they attend.
3. Let your child get more in
charge of the future. Over-leading the college search and college
decision process robs your teenager of an opportunity to take a giant
step toward adulthood. Be a gentle coach. Keep a calendar of due dates.
4. Adolescents are just like
people. They benefit more from compliments than criticism, particularly
during transitions. And like people, they resist being controlled or
judged. Talk to your senior showing the same respect you give your best
friend. Get help if arguments are frequent or fierce.
5. Letting go is over- and
under-rated. The emotional recipe for launching teenagers is to
gradually let go of your responsibility for your child’s decisions and
behavior, while holding on to accountability and promoting warm,
age-appropriate connections. Negotiate for a few firmly-held rules, and
one family connection per week.
6. You still need to "be there."
The way to "be there" for your child as college draws near is not to
disappear, nor to engulf your son with last-minute lessons about life
and hold on too tightly. Be watchful for signs of serious substance
abuse, depression, or eating disorders.
7. Checkbooks and computers are
important. Children launching to college need as much education about
managing money and using computers as they do about managing alcohol
and sex. Moreover, be frank about what you are willing to pay for
8. Parenting is not over. Your
children are not really leaving home forever, and your job as an active
parent is not over. Mothers and fathers are critical anchors to
adolescents as they go off to college. Divorced parents need to work
together to support new college students emotionally and financially.
9. E.T. was right: phone home,
don’t come home. The best cure for students’ homesickness is not to
come home, but to get involved in college life, and use the phone and
e-mail to stay connected. The best cure for parents’ kid-sickness is
not for you to call your child every day, but to get focused on new
10. What empty nest? The empty
nest is a thing of the past for most mothers who have had multiple
roles, but it may be a new reality for fathers who have been active
co-parents. The first few weeks or months may feel sad, but focusing on
new projects for mid-life helps a great deal. So does working on
relationships, and building new connections to adult kids.