Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dads and Moms

There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about "Velcro parents" and "parachute parents"; disparaging terms for parents who, it is said, can't leave their children alone at college. Mention is seldom made of the majority of parents who play a significant role in helping their students navigate their way through college, in addition to footing large percentages of the bill, of course.

Today, I received an email from a student who was in one of my classes last semester to say that after "long chats with her dad" over the Christmas break she had decided to continue with her studies at St. Mike's and become a teacher. When we last met at the end of last semester she was very "fragile" having had a difficult time completing assignments and getting to class. I could see that she was a really good student but there were things going on in her life that were clearly too complicated for me, as her advisor, to help her with.

I remember having "long chats" with my own daughter Marie when she was navigating her way though college. In fact she navigated her way through four different colleges on her way to her BA in music. I remember having to swallow hard when she decided to give up the significant scholarship she had been awarded to attend Oberlin when it was patently clear she was really unhappy there. I remember the importance of listening and agreeing but also the importance of challenging her to think a little less emotionally on some occasions or sewing a seed of an idea for her to think about.
I still don't know exactly what she thought about our chats but I do know that I felt I had done as much as I could to be there when I felt I was needed whether I agreed with her particular point of view or not. One of the things we can do as parents is learn as much as we can about the programs our children are going through at College. You can do this for the Education Programs at SMC by visiting the Advising Page for Education majors.
One of the benefits of Marie's year at Oberlin was that I got to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

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