Each year at College Parent Central we focus on some resolutions for the New Year. We know it’s often hard (if not impossible) to keep our resolutions, but focusing on some goals for the new year is a good exercise. It helps us think about where we’ve been and where we’re going.
If you’re a college parent (or almost a college parent), focusing on where you’re going in the next few years may be a combination of the unknown, the scary, the exciting, and just simply the adventure. We hope that you and your student find joy and meaning in that adventure.
We’ve offered some resolutions over the past few years and we think they are still worth considering (especially if you’re new to this college parent world). Check out our earlier New Year resolutions at the end of this post.
For 2015, we’d like to offer 8 resolutions for parents – whether you are college parents now or still high school parents just beginning the college journey. Like so many resolutions, these may be tough, but we hope you’ll come back to the list throughout the year and see how you’re doing.
- Do less. Surprised? Yes, rather than a resolution to do more, get more involved, push harder, this is a recommendation to do less. Although this might be applicable to many aspects of our lives, specifically, we’re suggesting that you do less for your student. Remember that the college admissions process and the college experience need to belong to your student. Be supportive, be there, but when it comes to applications, essays, resumes, college visits, assignments, dealing with professors, making college phone calls . . . even getting up on time in the morning . . . let your student own his experience. (Did you ever think that doing less would be so difficult?)
- Listen more. Almost as difficult as doing less, listening more is not easy. As parents, we’re advice givers. We so often listen in order to respond. Listening well is not passive, it is an active, difficult practice. Sometimes, the more you listen, the more you’ll find that your student shares. (We recognize how difficult good listening can be and we’ve shared several posts over the years with some helpful suggestions. Check these out at the end of this post.)
- Have a meeting. Many of us feel that we already spend too much time in meetings, but schedule a meeting with your student. Plan it, schedule it, make an agenda together, sit down together and take stock. Talk about your student’s goals and plans to reach those goals. Share your own hopes and expectations. Remember to listen a lot. Work together to decide what needs to be done and who is responsible. You may be surprised how different this can feel from those unplanned or “on the fly” conversations.
- Take the long view. Reflect about your long-term goals for your student. Yes, grades matter, admission matters, scholarships and honors matter, GPA matters, but remember the bigger picture as well. Think about what you can do now to encourage your student, help your student grow, help your student gain independence, help your student define and reach his own goals.
- Set limits. This isn’t new. You’ve been setting limits all of your child’s life. Just as you needed to be clear when your child was three and running into the road was off limits, make sure that your limits and expectations are clear now. Is there a limit to how much time your student can take to graduate? Is there a financial limit that you can manage for her education? Are there household expectations and limits when your student is home for vacation and break? Can any of these limits be negotiated? Be clear about your expectations, but consider asking your student to weigh in as well. Be proactive. Don’t wait until you’ve reached your limit to talk about your limits.
- Bite your tongue. Sometimes, you need to let your student make mistakes, fall down, and figure out how to get back up. It can be hard to watch. It is hard not to weigh in. Be available and ready if your student needs your help, but be prepared to hold your advice and opinion at times.
- Seek balance. Find something for yourself. This will be especially important once your student heads off to school. It is important that you stay involved with your student and his life in many ways, but you need to balance that with finding new paths for yourself. Be kind to yourself and patient with yourself.
- Enjoy watching the process unfold. Remember the fun of watching your child learn how to walk or feed himself, ride a bike or even head off to pre-school or kindergarten? (Yes, these were emotional times, too.) Find the joy in watching the process unfold as your student spreads her wings in new ways. Her relationship with you is changing, but not lessening. Allow yourself the pleasure of stretching with your student.
These resolutions may be a tall order for most of us as parents. Give them a try – and we hope that some of them persist past the first few weeks of the New Year.
Happy New Year 2015 from College Parent Central!
Need more resolutions? Consider these:
Need some help with those listening skills? Consider these posts: