Here’s an early passage from Carpe College! to help parents find their bearings during this challenging transition…“Lord, help me not to do for my children what they can do for themselves. Help me not to give them what they can earn for themselves. Help me not to tell them what they can look up and find out for themselves. Help me to help my children stand on their own two feet to grow into responsible, disciplined adults.” -Marian Wright Edelman, Guide My Feet
Before we truly begin to Carpe College!, we need to assign some roles and responsibilities.
Hey parents, yes you are part of the deal, and yes this book is for you, too. But it’s time to move to the sidelines and be more… how shall I say? Parenthetical. This book ought to give your kids the confidence to manage their new collegiate lives, and it ought to give you parents the peace of mind that your kids are well equipped to ‘own it’ on their own.
You can no longer be those ‘Ice Curling’ parents, who run on ahead and sweep away all the trouble spots, so your child can have smooth sailing. Nope. If you’ve tried that, you can’t do it anymore! You should be present, to a degree, but you’re a tag-a-long. Think about it. You’ve been practicing for this all along by watching little league games, stage dramas and music recitals from afar, and now it’s time to kick your spectatorship into high gear. There’s a huge difference between being a safety net and being a puppeteer. You need to be the former.
Be enriching, not overbearing. If you encounter an interesting article about your kid’s favorite musician, a good TED Talk related to their major, or a good lead for an internship, by all means, send it along. But mark it ‘No Response Needed’ or something else you’ve worked out to indicate that you’re just throwing stuff their way, and they shouldn’t feel obliged to get back to you. You could even just say, ‘Hey, thank me at Thanksgiving.’ Don’t worry. Of course, they’re going to talk to you before that! You’re just demonstrating how easy going you can be…. Right?!
Encourage from afar. Keep communication lines open by letting them know you’re available when THEY need to call or text. Leave the ball in their court, and respect their new lives, schedules and demands. They will need (and want) to communicate with you, but they would like to do it on their terms and timeline. Please let them. Give them their space, and they will be stronger. You will be stronger. Kind of like free-range turkeys (or something like that).
So, parents, please proceed to your proper place: those (parentheses)!
Oh yeah, and if you ‘borrowed’ this book from your kid, be sure to give it back when you’re done.