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10 TIPS FOR PARENTS

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 college.

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 dreams.

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.

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