Rushville Republican

Columns

June 25, 2013

Barada: Good advice for parents and college students

RUSHVILLE — This week’s column is more for the parents of kids about to head to college than unsolicited advice for students about to go. Why? Because kids going away from home, some for the very first time ever, can be an even more traumatic event for the parents than for their children!

One of the things we do very well in this community is nurture our children. We look after them; guide them; protect them; and, perhaps more than we should, we hover over them. The result is our children feel about as safe and secure as it’s possible for them to feel. That’s part of why going out on their own to college is a traumatic experience for both parents and children. The parents will no longer be there to make sure things go well for their children who are, for better or worse, out from under parental protection and security on a strange college campus fraught with all sorts of temptations, which is the view many parents have of college. Their children will discover, rather quickly, that the security of home and hearth are no longer there and that decision-making is, perhaps for the first time, totally up to them. That can be very traumatic, but it’s as it should be.

Those who have been down this road, parents and children alike, know the trepidation of going off to college. Will I find new friends? Will I like my roommate? Where can I do my laundry? What classes should I take? Where’s the bookstore? Will I like my instructors? Will I be homesick? These and a hundred other unspoken concerns impact every new college student. But the point is, questions like these have always plagued new college students, and most incoming freshmen manage to sort through the answers successfully and, assuming they’re prepared to study, easily survive the first few weeks.

The transition, however, isn’t the same for some parents, especially those who are used to the close supervision and careful nurturing of their children. That loss of control can be even more traumatic for parents than finding where classes are for their children. (I know where the football stadium is, but where on earth is Maxwell Hall?)

For every young person who just graduated from RCHS, regardless of what he or she chooses to do next, there is something of a “rite of passage,” through which all of them will go. The passage is really from childhood to being a responsible adult. Most go through it successfully, but there is an increasing number who fall by the wayside, usually because of the difficulty parents have letting go and the loss of the security and comfort the children experience. This is especially true for the overly nurtured child who suddenly finds himself “on his own” on a strange campus, even if that campus is only a few miles from home.

I think I can offer some useful advice, having been through this exercise three times and from listening to the experiences of others. First, leaving for college or trade school or whatever the new graduate plans to do should not be the first time away from home. There are all sorts of summer camps young people can attend, everything from day camps to one and two-week overnight camps (or longer) in the area. Making sure a son or daughter goes to a summer camp a few times will help pave the way for the larger step of going to college after high school. Sometimes it’s called “separation anxiety” and it’s totally understandable, but, realistically, no parent really wants their children to spend the rest of their lives living at home with Mom and Dad (unless the parents are unbelievably selfish). Early camping experiences are a very good way to get used to a child being away in small steps.

Second, it’s particularly important for nurturing parents to keep their trepidation to themselves. Letting a child know how upset they are at the thought of a son or daughter going out into the world will only make if more difficult for the child to start that “rite of passage.”

Third, and probably most importantly, parents should not encourage a child to come home every weekend just because they miss them. The more time a new college freshman spends at home, especially during that first semester, the more likely that student will be to drop out and move back in with mom and dad. By the same token, parents should insist that their new college student stay on campus until they’ve gotten used to being there and being part of campus life. The best advice I ever had was “don’t come home until Thanksgiving break.” Parents who allow their children to come home every weekend are simply being “enablers” and making it more likely their son or daughter will end up dropping out.

Nearly every new student is going to experience some homesickness, and parents can either help or hurt, depending on how they handle the plaintive calls from a son or daughter. The best approach is to take a firm stand and, while recognizing that feelings of homesickness are real, point out that they will pass in a few days, especially if the new student gets out of their dorm room and gets to know other students or signs up for an activity on campus.

Among the foregoing pieces of advice, the worst thing the parent of a new college freshman can do is fall back into over-nurturing mode and telling little Hubert or Mary Sue that “it’s perfectly fine to come on back home.” Doing so will all but guarantee that the new college student will end up as a permanent house guest of mom and dad for, possibly, years to come. Sometimes it’s tough for a parent to let go, but in the long run it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

That’s -30- for this week.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • We are still the United States It seems to me that America has in the past had an idea of destiny, one that started at Concord and continues to today. A great experiment was begun with the shot heard around the world. It continued on through the remainder of the Revolution and spa

    April 22, 2014

  • Mail Tales: Of postcards and wishing where you were This week we're going to explore the exciting world of Deltiology. I know that "Deltiology" sounds vaguely scientific, which means some of you are probably worrying that this is another one of my sneaky attempts to foist upon you a poorly researched,

    April 22, 2014

  • An important election this year I wonder if anyone has to be reminded that we're in another election year. The current election season is often referred to as an "off-year" election because it's not a year in which we vote for a president. This will be, nevertheless, one of the mos

    April 22, 2014

  • In a perpetual comma I misplace a lot of things: keys wallet gloves the dog's leash. Recently I misplaced something that may not seem very important unless you read that last sentence carefully. Then you will realize that believe it or not I can't find my comma. Yes it's

    April 22, 2014

  • Crate art Paper labels from 1880-1930, collectively referred to as "Crate Art", are a unique form of American Folk Art. Originally designed to be glued to the ends of wooden crates to identify produce during shipping, the graphically attractive labels are stil

    April 22, 2014

  • This column will self-destruct in 5 seconds I've become completely infatuated over the past few weeks with a gift I received a few Christmases ago. It was a completely unexpected gift from one of my big brothers: a set of "Mission: Impossible" DVDs. No, not home videos of me begging my kids to

    April 15, 2014

  • Don't sweat the small things There are a few things in life that really get under my skin, one of which is complaining. Yes, I complain sometimes, but it doesn't last too long at all before I put myself in check. There was a story this week that really touched my heart and like

    April 15, 2014

  • The timeless beauty of wicker No matter what the day may bring, I can leave it all behind when I take my evening walk. Strolling through our historic neighborhood on Indy's south side is a multifaceted treat. It is good for my heart, it erases the cares of the day and it affords

    April 15, 2014

  • Self deposit box I love where I bank. It's a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 15, 2014

  • Change can be done here In previous columns I've suggested that one of the factors holding this community back is the relatively poor image many of us have of our town. The point, as some may recall, was made by several people who live in other communities who said Rushvill

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.