Thursday, December 01, 2005

Talking turkey at Christmas time….or, some thoughts for parents

So, did “the topic” come up over Thanksgiving break? If you have an underclassman in the family, the question might have run something like this: so, have you decided on a major yet? Taken any courses which look interesting and might lead to something? For parents of seniors, the tactful, roundabout approach may have been abandoned for something more direct like—so, what are you planning on doing after gradutation?

In case your questions ended in a very short conversation, Johnson and Schelhas-Miller in their recent book, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years, include some very helpful advice.

They begin by explaning what’s going on. “Sam, like may other collge students, is discovering that what he always thought he wanted to do doesn’t fit his interests any more…. Parents who have sent a focused and confident child off to college may wornder what has happened and feel concerned about his or her future prospects. In fact, it is common for this questioning to occur more than once during the college years.”

So, what to do in case this topic raises its thorny head over Christmas break? The authors include a list of good ideas and bad ideas.

Under the “What to Avoid” category, they list the following:
1) don’t try to convince him to change his mind and continue with science (or whatever that first love was).
2) don’t use “you” messages such as the following: “But Sam, you always wanted to become a scientist. What’s happened to you?”
3) don’t blame him for feeling confused and/or indecisive or, my addition, guilt him up about how much money this education is costing.

So, what to do:
1) open up the discussion in a neutral way and listen to Sam’s interests, concerns and fears.
2) give him permission to explore.
3) let him know you’re worried but be specific as to why.
4) reinforce the fact that this is his decision. Remind him that you love him regardless of his major and future career choices.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 12/01 at 01:21 PM
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