As the old year rolls over into the new, it is often a time of looking backward and looking forward. For many parents of high school seniors and college students, the focus may be more forward than backward. It’s an exciting — and sometimes anxious time.
A few years ago, we offered some suggestions to keep in mind as you formulate your resolutions for the New Year. We’d like to share them again here and then help you get started by offering five resolutions for high school senior parents and five resolutions for those of you who are college parents.
We’re sure you’ll add a few of your own, but we hope these may help to spur your imagination.
What makes a good New Year’s resolution?
- Realistic — Try to make resolutions that are realistic. Can they really be achieved? Are you setting yourself up for failure or expecting too much from yourself? Scale back or revise if necessary. If it’s not realistic, you’ll only be disappointed.
- Optimistic — Believe that you can make a change for the better and that accomplishing this resolution will move you forward. Plan to succeed.
- Balanced — Think about all of the aspects of your life. Will this resolution help you keep all of your interests, activities and needs in balance? Does it make sense in the larger scope of your life?
- Meaningful — If it doesn’t really matter to you, then you won’t work at it. Make sure you care.
- Ambitious — We’ve often discussed the value of doing things that are difficult or hard. Choose at least one thing that will challenge you to greater things.
- Specific — Make sure that you are clear about exactly what you want to accomplish. The more specific you are, the more easily you’ll be able to tell when you’ve accomplished your goals.
- Measureable — How will you know when/if you’ve accomplished what you’ve resolved to do? Is there an end point? Is there an outcome that you can identify?
As you think about your own resolutions, here are a few to get you started. Use these as a launching point for your own.
For high school parents
- Resolve that your student’s college choice, or the application process, or acceptance letters, will not be the first thing that you talk about when you meet other parents. (Both your student and the other parents will be grateful.)
- Resolve that you will not ask your student what she has decided to major in. Try to steer others away from asking her as well. Encourage her to keep an open mind.
- Resolve to model de-stressing about the college decision process for your student. Try to relax — especially while waiting for acceptance letters.
- Resolve to accept the natural tendency of teenagers to begin the distancing process. Use this year as a time to begin to step back.
- Resolve to use the next few months to help your student work on assuming responsibility for his own life and honing the life skills he will need in college. Buy your student a good alarm clock and let him be responsible for getting himself up. Make sure he knows how to do laundry, make appointments, create a budget, check a bank balance, set goals and meet deadlines.
For college parents
- Resolve to accept the changes in your student. Enjoy the adult she is becoming.
- Resolve to spend more time listening to your student this year — really listening — between the lines.
- Resolve to trust the values you have taught your student as you raised him. Look for signs of those values in his actions and decisions.
- Resolve to do something new for yourself this year. Take up a new hobby, nurture yourself. Let your student see you as a role model of self-care and fulfillment.
- Resolve to tell your college student as often as you can that you are proud of her and you know she’s accomplishing great things.
Bonus — Resolve to bookmark College Parent Central and sign up for our mailing list to continue to get information and support as you navigate the next few exciting years. The more information that you have, the better armed you will be to help your student, and to feel more secure.
The New Year offers all of us an opportunity to make a fresh start in many areas of our lives. For students — and their parents — the new semester is a double opportunity to begin anew. Enjoy the process of watching your student — and yourself — as you make transitions in the year ahead.
Happy New Year!