Advice for Parents

Be Ready to Listen, Book Parents Weekend and more: Next Steps for Parents

As parents, we know that sometimes the best advice can come from fellow parents who have successfully navigated some developmental step or landmark -- or land mine -- in their children's lives. Here are two of the savviest moms we know -- Lisa Endlich Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington of the excellent blog Grown and Flown -- on next steps for parents of seniors.


This is a moment to rejoice.  Your child was accepted to college and all of your effort and his have resulted in this success. There may be some small disappointments, there may euphoria and there may be some big decisions ahead, but this is one of life’s big moments and it should be noted and celebrated. Let your nearly grown child know just how proud you are and acknowledge how much of his effort it took to get to this moment. 

Once your family has taken a time to savor this special moment, there are a few more practical matters that need your 

Book the revisits.

Your child may be making a very real decision between two or more schools they have not seen in a year, or more.  See if the school has official revisit days when pre-frosh return for an organized program.  If such a program exists, make certain to book a place in the program and hotel reservations if needed.  If there is not official program, make plans for your teen to take another 

Decisions, decisions... Sound Bites, No Sympathy and Seizing the Moment for Parents

Beginning today and throughout the next week, we'll be posting reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We begin with the always excellent advice of psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child. We have always found Thompson's wisdom and sound bites to be indispensable for both turning points and moments of truth in our family life. We asked him how he got so smart about all of this -- and believe me, he is -- he told us, "Hey, I’ve been working with teenagers for forty-four years.  Some lessons they just insist you learn." Read on to benefit from those lessons so you can support your teenager and seize the moment -- in the best possible way.


Listen, Listen, Listen: Practical Advice from Psychologist Michael Thompson on Motivating Juniors to Focus on College

Yesterday, psychologist and author Michael Thompson joined us to provide a window into the adolescent psyche and how that can affect the interactions between parent and teen as the college application process begins. Today, in Part 2 of Thompson's post, he has some excellent recommendations – and support – for parents so that they can put these insights into action and meaningfully advise their sons and daughters.


With all the developmental observations and warnings from my previous post in mind, here are eight suggestions for motivating your high school junior to focus on the college process. 

1) Start with yourself.  Before you approach your child, go to a friend whose child has gone through the process.  Choose someone who is reasonable and honest, who will explain what worked and who will also confess to mistakes.  If you have a parent/friend you respect to walk you through the process, it will arm you and calm you.

Run away! Run away! Michael Thompson on Monty Python and Motivating 11th Graders to Focus on College

Everywhere we speak across the country, we hear from families concerned about or in distress over 11th graders who are in avoidance/denial mode about the college application process. We asked psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child and Homesick and Happy, for his insight into the teenage psyche and his advice about putting those insights into action. Thompson has a talent for translating the science of psychology and anecdotal experience into vivid action items for parents. One of our favorites? Thompson's recounting of advice from a principal that illustrates the danger of becoming an expert on the process before your teenager does. ""If you get too far out in front of your troops," he said, "they may mistake you for the enemy." Join him here today, in part one of his two-part guest post, as he addresses how to have a meeting of the minds with your 11th grader and where Monty Python figures into the process.

Parents: How to best help your teen navigate the college application process

Educational psychologist Jane McClure joins us this month to discuss how parents can help college-bound teens through the application process. Read on to find out how to become an advisor and advocate for your son or daughter, and avoid becoming a "nagging taskmaster."


Parents often ask me how they can help their son or daughter during the application process.  I am pleased to get this question because it indicates parents recognize there are some methods that are appropriate and helpful and others are not.  While each student is unique, here are some typical issues that parents should consider as they attempt to provide assistance.


  1.  It is important that students see their parents as advocates rather than as nagging task masters.  After all, this may be the last time that students live full-time at home, and you don’t want it to be fraught with fighting, nagging, slamming doors, ……well, you get the picture. 


Holiday Advice for Parents: Try the College Diet

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.  ― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Parents, this week we have some advice for you.  Tread lightly when discussing college in the presence of your juniors and seniors over the holiday, eschewing talk of college lists, deadlines and all things applications. As you gather around the table for Thanksgiving, we suggest you adhere to the "college diet" -- a great idea we learned about from psychologist Michael Thompson. It has one simple-to-follow guideline -- the subject of college should not be on the menu more than twice a week.   And run some interference for your son or daughter when relatives and friends get too inquisitive or let themselves indulge in thinly-veiled status competition.  Even well-meaning inquiries can add to the anxiety of the process, especially for seniors. So nix those conversations by changing the subject and support your students in relaxing and enjoying this most wonderful holiday.