Tips for Parents
Supporting Your Student as a Sounding Board
Students have quite a few big decisions to make during their college years. Some examples of these decisions include:
While it's likely that most students will utilize and value their peers' thoughts on these decisions, some will call home looking for help from parents. It's often easiest and quickest to just offer advice, rather than listening to a student's thought process surrounding the pros and cons of a particular decision. It's also easy to devalue significant influences for them, at times forgetting what it's like to be of college-age or a member of the millennial generation.
As a parent, one of the greatest lessons you can teach your student is how to make a tough decision on his own. Of course, most individuals will always consider others' opinions. Those who are healthiest, however, have the ability to weigh those opinions in comparison to their own.
When your student does call home to process a decision, consider asking questions, rather than answering them. Here are some questions you can ask to help your student come to his own conclusion:
If you can't spend the time to have a detailed conversation right when your student calls, assure him that you want to assist in the decision-making process. Let your student know that it's not a good time (i.e. you are making dinner or ready to head out the door with your student's sibling) and set up another time to chat. Your student will appreciate your honesty and commitment to providing him with your undivided attention. Plus, you'll be less likely to get agitated and short-tempered, especially if the decision is one with which you might not necessarily agree.
Having these types of conversations also helps the parent/student relationship continue to grow in maturity. As students get older and graduate from college, they begin looking to their parents more as peers. Knowing they can come to you for assistance with decisions not only will teach them valuable lessons, but will also continue to forge a meaningful network of family support.
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