Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Don't do anything rash!

"I'm thinking about swooping in on my college kid and yanking him out of school!"
"What? Are you kidding? Calm down. Don't do anything you're going to regret."
That's how a handful of conversations have gone with friends over the last couple of years!
Sound crazy?
Not really. Here are some of the various scenarios (all altered a bit, for obvious reasons):
1) He's come home from college for Spring Break and much like Christmas, he's sleeping in until noon, not very helpful, not very communicative, seems totally unmotivated to do...much of anything. Now, come to think of it, as a parent, I haven't seen any grades all year...what the heck is he doing at college? This is a really expensive 'sleep tank,' if that's what he's doing???
2) The conversations with my daughter have become less and less. The texts, on her end, consist of one word responses. When I do talk to her, she's disrespectful, busy telling me that she's an adult, doesn't have to do what I say...
3) My daughter isn't communicating with either parent, virtually at all. Doesn't respond to texts or emails. There've been all kinds of flags. I'm worried, really worried.
4) College seems like a "big drink'em up." As a parent, I don't sense he's going to any classes, all it sounds like he's doing is partying. His Facebook page is full of pictures with red tumblers! Every time I call him, I seem to be waking him up.
5) There's been a death in my child's world. She sounds very down. She seems to find it hard to go to class...to do anything.
OK, the line of first defense is the college. As a parent, call the Dean of Students. A girlfriend of mine was the Dean of Students at a small liberal arts college and she used to say her title was "Dean of "Parents."
These people are there to help! Talk to them! But here's the kicker, you have to be open and honest with this person. Lay your cards out on the table, whatever they are. They can't help if they don't know the real picture. They are going to be able to:
A) Suggest people you and/or your child should talk to. Resources.
B) Check in with your student, either directly or through their RA.
C) Make recommendations on various courses of action. (ie., notifying professors, etc.)
D) Rest your (and your student's) mind at ease.
and most importantly,
E) Help you sort things out from a distance so you can take the appropriate action or not take any action.
Regardless of what parents are told today about letting their kids go, you know your kid best and you need to recognize the flags and then decide whether or not you should intervene. But don't do anything rash. Often times things work themselves out, but sometimes not without some parental intervention.
I have a friend that did drive down to college X, found their son in the rack, accessed the situation, had a conversation with the Dean of Students, and everyone decided that a semester off was best. During that semester he had a job, responsibilities and guess what? He turned it around! It took more than one semester, but he did. Another friend, saw the "flags," flew out to get a visual of her daughter, realized that her daughter's health was in serious jeopardy and intervened with the help of the college.
We've all heard versions of these stories.
Some takeaways I've learned:
1) When your child (Gen Yer) signs up for classes when they first get accepted, be SURE they check the box to have their grades come home to you. Just because you're paying the bill does NOT mean you're privvy to anything! :)
Getting their grades helps you have somewhat of a handle of what's going on.
2) Get the telephone number of their roommate or good buddy or a significant other. You never know when you might need them.
3) Don't hesitate to call the college and speak to the Dean of Students (or someone like that).
As a CU Boulder spokesperson said, when my daughter was a freshman, "you have resources in your hometowns for you. We have resources here for your son or daughter. Please don't make your kid your "couch" and don't you try to be theirs. Call us if you need us to help direct your student to those resources." Good advice.
4) Don't jump in the car or board a plane. Have a conversation with your kid, first, if that gets you nowhere and your flags are still up or hoisted even higher, then call the Dean of Students to get some advice.
Any of this sound familiar?
What are your takeaways?
What's your advice?

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