Advice for Parents

Parents: Say This, Not That

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It’s tough to be a parent of a teenager. Period. We get it! Most Campus Bound counselors are parents ourselves, and many have been through the college admissions process with our own kids. Even those of us who haven’t gone through it ourselves have been working with teens and families long enough to know how stressful this time can be.

Sometimes, when things are difficult, it can be helpful to take a step back and really think about how we, ourselves, may be contributing to the problem. It can also be helpful to seek outside advice from an expert to gain some perspective.

 

In this blog, we hope we can provide some guidance about what things are helpful to say to your teens during the college admissions process, and which things are less helpful.

 

Don’t say…”Don’t worry,” or ignore their feelings.

The college process can be VERY stressful for teenagers, and though you may mean well by saying, “Don’t worry,” unless you follow up with a more thoughtful conversation about what exactly their worries are and why, it isn’t helpful.

 

Don’t say…”I know what’s best for you.”

Perhaps you do; perhaps you don’t. Making mistakes is part of living and learning, and it’s definitely part of being a teenager. I know what you might be thinking…”…but this is the rest of their lives we are talking about and they are making a huge mistake!” Well, frankly, you can offer help and encouragement and get professional advice or help, but ultimately, it’s their life and teens don’t typically respond well to orders.

 

Do say, “I love you no matter what.”

They may be surly, they may be moody, they may not be your biggest fan at the moment, but you still need to be theirs. You can’t say it to them enough. Phrases like, “I care about you and want to help you through this,” or “That college would have been lucky to have you; it’s their loss,” mean a great deal during this time, where disappointment, uncertainty and frustration are rampant.

 

Do say, “How can I help?”

Rather than assuming you know how you can help your child through the college process, what about asking them? A simple question like, “How can I help?” or “Is there anything I can take off your plate to make things easier for you?” still make it clear that the student is in control of their own process (essential!) but also that you care.

 

Do say, “It’s not where you go, but what you do when you get there.”

It’s old advice, but it’s true, and saying this to your teen is telling them a few important things: 1. It’s not an inanimate object that will make you successful… it’s you. 2. I believe you can do it. 3. It’s important to me that you make the most of whatever college you attend, and 4. No one college (or thing) can make you happy. All of these are important life lessons that can be conveyed by having this talk with your kids.

 

The college process can be stressful and overwhelming. We get it! But, with the right attitude, it can also be fun, and an opportunity to work alongside your teen and get to know them better. However, if personalities aren’t clicking, and either you or your teen aren’t making progress, perhaps it’s time to call in the professionals. One thing we often hear from clients is, “When we hired Campus Bound, it felt like a giant weight was taken off our shoulders and we could enjoy the process.” That is, indeed, our goal.

 

If you think Campus Bound can help you, please email us at info@campusbound.com or call us at 888-843-5560.