The year 2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror. There’s still a pandemic, and there’s still a lot of turmoil in our world, but somehow we need to find hope in the new year. 2021 will be better. We need to believe that.
Somehow, it seems more difficult this year to think about New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all just been hanging on — trying to survive. That seems enough for this year. Survive the present, look to the future, believe things will get better — and don’t try to challenge yourself too much.
But it is a new year, after all, and that brings with it not just hope for a better year, but a challenge to make it a better year.
We’ve offered some New Year’s resolutions, or thoughts, each year since College Parent Central began. So this year, I’ve gone back to reread them, which was an interesting reflective exercise on its own. (Click on the year’s date if you’d like to see the full list for some extra inspiration.) But I’ve selected just one resolution from each year to share here. The choice wasn’t always easy, but I tried to pull one thing that seems relevant to where we are today.
Take these as a start for your own reflections. You may be inspired to make some resolutions of your own, or you may just opt for survival this year. But I hope these provide a way for you to think about your college student (or almost college student) and about your parenting role in the new year.
Happy, Healthy, Safe New Year!
Resolve to tell your college student as often as you can that you are proud of them and you know they’re accomplishing great things.
What makes a good New Year’s Resolution? We offered seven factors. Here’s the one to hang on to this year: Optimistic — Believe that you can make a change for the better and that accomplishing this resolution will move you forward.
This year we focused on connections. Here’s one for parents: Connect with someone ”different.” Reach out this year to get to know someone you might not interact with otherwise. Move out of your comfort zone to get to know someone with a different background, different values, different lifestyle. Find what you have in common and broaden your horizons.
This year we focused on saying ”thank you.” There are lots of people you can thank, but since so many of us are missing family this year, we suggest Grandparents— These family members may be actively helpful or just quietly there — and proud of your student. Don’t forget to thank them specifically for the help they have given your college student (and other kids as well).
Resolve to remember that the college transition process happens to both your student and to you. Remember that you will be undergoing changes as well. Don’t forget to nurture yourself.
Take the long view. Reflect about your long-term goals for your student. Yes, grades matter, admission matters, scholarships, honors and GPA matter, but remember the bigger picture as well. Think about what you can do now to encourage your student, help them grow and gain independence, and help your student define and reach their own goals.
This year we focused on activities you could undertake in the new year. Try this one — Send your student a handwritten letter. We seldom do this now that we have Skype, Facetime, Zoom, text messages and so many other quick means of communicating. But writing a hand-written letter takes more time, and it makes us think differently than we do at the keyboard. Hand-written letters are often kept and treasured. What to say in your letter? That’s up to you. It can be serious or light. Let your thoughts lead you. We can almost guarantee that it will be meaningful to your student.
Resolve to spend more time listening to your student this year — really listening — between the lines.
Make one connection this year with an upcoming college parent. Think about what you’ve learned so far about your new role. Find someone who could benefit from that wisdom and share it. Invite several parents to join you and make it an event. Pay it forward.
Resolve to trust the values you have taught your student as you raised them. Look for signs of those values in their actions. You may be surprised to see more than you expect.
Resolve to do more — Not for your student, but do more for yourself. Take time for yourself. Take time for a bit of self-care. Start a new hobby. Take time with friends. Begin to take your interests to the next level to prepare yourself for your empty nest.