Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Navigating the first year

My husband used to refer to me as THE helicopter mom. And whenever I was seemingly hovering, he'd make the sound of the propeller so I'd back off a little. Over the years I've learned how to support without too much smothering. Tough as it was, it helped the kids gain a sense of independence but not feel alone. Now that my daughter is a freshman and has experienced some difficulty navigating her first semester in college, I've done really well exercising extreme self control and did not jump on a plane to go save her.

Academics, social, health and well being are some of the areas freshmen experience difficulty. For my girl the workload is very demanding. Even though she was prepared for a hectic workload, it still has a level of difficulty and at times have proven to be very overwhelming.
The advise we give her is create a schedule and time management tips. We give her space to grow independently without dismissing her thoughts. But all we can do is support. She has to develop her own time management style. She visits her professors and developed a rapport with them. This is a skill she adopted in high school. My college freshman has also developed relationships with upperclassmen who have traveled the same path as she and whose advise have proven to be priceless.

She's socially adept, and yet it has proven to have it's challenges. Luckily, she has an amazing room-mate who is more like a sister than a roomy. That's one less thing to worry about. She's made many friends and though at times, she sends the random 'I wanna come home' or 'I miss you so much' message, she loves her school and the friends she made. Campus activities and social gatherings are a joy for her and have their own set of distractions. but she has to learn balance. We can only advise. If her grade dipped because she partied and didn't study.....she'll make the adjustment. The motivation can't come from parental threats; it must come from within our students. She's a staff writer for the school newspaper and though she enjoys it, has had to pass on some articles to meet class obligations. Balance is very tough. She's managing her workload and 'the struggle is real' but she has a great group of friends who share in the struggle and that makes it bearable.

With regards to health and well being, my daughter never went to a doctor visit without a parent. For a freshman, visiting the doctor when ill could be daunting. They prefer to lay in bed. That's when  moms yell and insist that they get their butts out the bed and go to the doctor. Because we know that nothing gets accomplished if sick....unless your name is mom.

As parents, we need to feel needed but it's more important for our Freshmen to feel confident, motivated and  independent. These few tips can help you support your college freshman without smothering.

  • Do not call Administrators to solve a problem your child may be having. Instead, give your child the first stab at it with tools and confidence to navigate his/her college world.
  • Don't call your child constantly sharing what he's missing at home. That worsens his homesickness.
  • Do ask about the friends they're making and show a genuine interest in his/her social life. 
  • When they call about a difficult test/low grade....DON'T freak out! Be encouraging and supportive and remind them about tutor services on campus or ask them what they could've done differently.
  • If they don't call often, don't worry or complain.....they ALWAYS call when they run out of money. Make the most of that phone call.
You want your kids to be independent, confident and well adjusted to campus life. If you do everything for them, you will cripple their growth. Life has its challenges and college is a great internship on 'real life'. Be encouraging, be supportive, be motivating and embrace your journey without hampering theirs.


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  2. Oh Nics! thanks for sharing...

    I just had this conversation with my first year freshman as well. They've been going to the pediatrician without me since they turned teenagers and thankfully, I never had to bother about waking them up for school, they have their gadgets programmed with digital alarms, lol

    I am happy to say so far so good. Even though he elected to stay close to home and commute to the college campus everyday, he's balancing his new found freedom, maneuvering the minefield of juggling his new girlfriend and still managing to ace Math, Sciences and Psych 101 ˘¿˘

    But truth be told, I did more than hover when he allowed an academic adviser to basically dictate his class schedule...as soon as he said to me that he was to be in school every single day of the work-week, I said "Oh no, that is a recipe for disaster".

    He resisted at first, but I begged and pleaded with him to take my one and only advice before I completely backed off. So, with him at my side, I jumped onto the online portal, re-arranged his schedule so that had all 6 classes, but was only required to show up 3 days per week instead of five.

    To this day, he still thanks me for insisting on him having Mondays and Wednesdays off. I've not "hovered" since because now he has sufficient time to pace himself, stay up late to complete assignments, get research or group projects done, without the struggle of a day-to-day turn around deadline.


  3. PG. Lol it's okay. We just must know our kids and as you know my Freshman alarm blazed and she never moved an inch. Lol. But now she gets up and heads to 8am classes. It's all about growing up. I love your boys and so proud of them. Wait...you said girlfriend? Lol

  4. Nics girl, you and Uncle D are doing such a great job with them, the perfect balance...they have the benefit of your constant wisdom, love, and support. Much respect!
    One of the downsides of single parenting is having to empower, fortify, train, AND be the disciplinarian as well. The pull and tug hurts the heart. Sticking to my guns can sometimes feel like an emotional roller-coaster, but I had to give them the foundation.

    We can only do our best, then let go and trust God to do the rest <3

    :( The gf issue is being handled by the grandma who is a nurse and a prayer warrior. She so happens to be his confidant! I'm not gonna worry. LMBO!

    1. PG.....Girl...it's the entire village. That's why I keep my struggles real....even on social media. Friends like you can't help me if I'm not honest. So my success is yours also. and I'm thankful. Sometimes your tea saves me from going off on one of them. Your tea inspiration is much appreciated :) Love you girl. Muah xo

  5. Great read sis! So much to look forward too but extremely proud of both you and Darnell for preparing the kids for success. She has adapted wonderful and its a blessing to see her grow. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you sis. It's the village...so congrats to you and Uncle-Daddy too :)