What do college students and parents have in common with tadpoles and fish? In a nutshell, when we send our kids off to college, they leave our ‘pond’ and go out on their own.
Do they find another pond? Do they return to OUR pond? What happens if they really weren’t ‘fish’ at all but really TADPOLES when they left.
Upon return they might have legs! GASP!! Now what?
Details about the scenario are tackled within “Illusion:Redefined” by Dr. Nehoc. If you check it out, please do share your comments in this forum, as Dr. Nehoc checks it frequently.
Moving along . . . so the kids arrive home and there are new conversations beginning. Discussions about course work, finances, plans, social life, milestones, short and long term goals.
New and changing family dynamics as parents embark upon difficult discussions (click here for tips on helping college students cope with divorce ) or remarry; or perhaps a student braves a discussion with parents about self-discovery (click here for resources focusing on gender discovery discussions). Maybe there is a family vacation that your returning student actually prefers to NOT join, for the very first time in his/her life.
Sometimes it’s easy to begin new conversations. When it isn’t, there are resources you can tap into. (Below and throughout this post)
As children grow, they yearn for their own identity – one that is separate from that of their parents. They need to discover their own motivation, earn their own respect and figure out their destiny. They need to find their own rhythm.
Students often believe their value is measured by exam grades. Employees feel their value is measured by the annual review. Until an internal locus of control is recognized, it can’t be tapped into, and our children search for who they are by reaching out rather than reaching in.
If your child is a dreamer, she/he needs tools to self-reflect. If your child has no creative imagination, she/he may need tools to learn how to meditate. Your job is to facilitate your child’s independence and decision making.
When kids come home from college, they have a lot to share. But what really happens when families re-unite? Are hugs and “I missed you” enhanced by insight? Or do you experience struggles or fights? Sometimes the newness is met with respect; embraced with full hearts, and it’s clear. Opinions are honored; renewal through sharing reminds us that we can lean on unconditional love and depend on mutual support.
Lucky are those who have patience and a desire to listen. They share, with a feeling of safety and security. Blessed are those who can learn, change and grow. Validation is such a gift. Wisdom helps parents and children recognize the importance of trust.
Are you open minded or are you trying to force your children into a mold you picked for them? Do you say, “It’s the way that we do it” to justify why your children ‘should’ let go of something new they brought home? Perhaps a new culture or extended vocabulary? Unless it is destructive, why are you to tell them to let it go?
What of the student who makes a decision to follow a path ‘strange’ or ‘new’? Are you a parent who can’t accept you child’s rejection of parts of the upbringing that you value? Your disappointment may be well founded; that is, if your child is self-destructive or otherwise destructive to another person, click here for resources.
When neither side feels heard, communication halts. Sadness, resentment and feeling unheard distract from the deep love you know you share. When “points must be made” and “agendas are set” you risk missing out on how much you all care for one another. How can you change this pattern? Click here to learn about family communication.
If your child is simply growing in a new direction, see if you can honor the journey, for each path is sacred; sometimes we just have to let go. Our children are under our care for life’s tools, and then life is their own; to stay stagnant or grow. Click here for support.
The reality is that not all children want (or are ABLE) to live the life their parents raised them to live. As Nehoc’s book discusses, the tadpole that hatches among many fish swims as if they’re all the same. But time forces legs . . . the bank claims the frog. The Universe balances life’s ponds with this game. All in The Meadow have their dance and place. With humans, the same: wisdom meets change with grace. (Click here for Nehoc’s book)
If you’re a parent who just can’t accept this chapter in life, turn the page . . . Try to think back to what you thought then, when you were at your child’s age. You had your obstacles; you made it through. Your school, more than likely: hard knocks. Ask yourself honestly, “What is my goal? To facilitate the fulfillment of my child’s potential or to feed my own ego?” If you don’t nourish the spirit within your child, you risk blocking the flow of positive energy
Successful are those who choose to remain available to lend an ear. Not with, “I told you so” not “this is how. . .” but supportive and just with, “I’m here.” Today set new boundaries, create a safe space, and try to accept something new. You offered your best; each day, a new test . . . “Be there” to help if you’re asked to.
You offered the tools and set out the rules. And now your child will embark upon an adventure. She/he will fulfill potential- experience life . . . perhaps as a night owl, or a morning lark. It is not necessarily YOUR rhythm – but it is valid. Life is multi-dimensional, with mysteries, that threaten balance. Count blessings, have faith and honor prayer – as these are all tools to help you cope.
For additional support and guidance regarding healthy communication with your college student or grown child, click various links below: