Every day with a teenager brings drama. If you were expecting an easy ride you’ve probably realized that you were delusional. Even the best of daughters has her moments; and even the model son makes you want to pull your hair out.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about navigating college roadblocks, based on my experience and the experiences of other parents. There are three tactics parents can use when dealing with these unexpected twists and turns along the road to college.
Take a deep breath and count to 10
Most teenagers have moments when they speak everything they are thinking. Words like, “I have decided to postpone college” and “I’m going to that college even if we can’t afford it and you can’t stop me” or my favorite, “I’m just not feeling it” (insert whatever “it” is). Before you respond and react, take a deep breath and listen. Odds are there is something causing those feelings and they just need to talk about it. Reacting in a harsh or angry way will only make them shut down.
Listen carefully and answer just as carefully
Parents should learn to listen. Most teenagers think out loud. Their thoughts are usually jumbled and immature, but it’s a process they go through. They don’t need help as much as they need your encouragement and love. Once you’ve listened, then answer in love. They look to your for guidance even if you don’t think they do.
Expect the unexpected
At some point during the college process, your teenager is going to throw you a curve ball. He may decide to skip college and join the military. She may feel a gap year is in order before starting college. He may decide to go to trade school instead of a traditional 4-year college. She might announce that all the colleges you’ve been looking at just aren’t feeling right. Be ready for those curve balls and dodge them in the best way you can. Open discussion and loving encouragement go a long way in helping you and your teen reach decisions.
Parenting, on the best of days, is a challenge. Drama abounds in the life of your teenager, especially if you factor in everything involved in preparing for college. As my mother used to say, “This too shall pass.”