DAN'S PAPERS, August 27, 2010 Page 103 www.danshamptons.com
Embrace Your Empty Nest Tips from The Hyde School in Bath, ME, and parenting experts Laura and Malcolm Gauld. There are many rites of passage in our children’s lives, from clinging to our legs at preschool to dressing up for prom. But their milestone rite of passage – graduating from high school – can also mark a milestone for parents. “Moving on to college is the first time a child leaves home as a young adult,” said Laura Gauld, parenting expert and coauthor (with her husband Malcolm) of The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have. “And when it’s your youngest going out the door, it means an empty nest.” After the tassel has been turned, the caps thrown in the air, and the initial shock wears off, parents may begin to question their changing role. “Parenting does not end,” Laura continued. “Children will always need their parents. However, your role should be evolving from a supervisor and micro-manager to a mentor and sounding board.” Amidst the excitement of this transition, young adults will encounter challenges and adjustments, especially if it’s their first time away from family. Perhaps the greatest challenge of all is…FREEDOM. The Gaulds reassure parents that the true test of having to balance the demands of rigorous academic coursework, combined with myriad social opportunities and virtually no supervision, is one that their children can pass. “If you’ve done your job as a parent, you’ve raised your kids to know the basics about good food and nutrition, productive work and
study habits, simple skills in managing their money, and respect in relationships,” said Malcolm. “They will also have a healthy dose of self-esteem.” “However, there will come a night, during that first semester, when you receive ‘the phone call’ – when the reality of being truly independent hits and feelings of vulnerability and loneliness emerge,” Malcolm said. “That’s when your parenting needs to change.” Parents must test their own skills at being less of a manager and more of a supporter and mentor. Here are some tips to help them stay on track. Set high expectations and let go of the outcomes: We need to aim high and resist lowering the bar when we sense they’re having difficulty accomplishing their goals. This means offering guidance and
support when needed, rather than stepping in to manipulate the outcome. “When your child is encountering difficulty in a course, don’t say, ‘That’s ok, you can drop the class if it’s too hard,” said Malcolm. “Letting go of the outcome allows children to take responsibility for their actions.” Allow obstacles to become opportunities: “We can get caught up in trying to ‘fix’ our children’s problems as we did when they were younger,” said Laura. “Now we need to step back, allow our kids to face their obstacles, and see for themselves the potential for positive learning opportunities.” Value success and failure: Today’s parents have a hard time letting their children fail. Success is important, but we know from experience that failure can teach powerful lifelong lessons leading to profound personal growth. “When your child fails at something, ask what they learned from the experience,” said Laura. “Chances are they already know. Whether it was that they were ill-prepared, over-anxious, not focused, or something else. This is how children learn about who they really are and how to overcome obstacles.” Continue to inspire: Regardless of what they might say or do, kids share a deep yearning to be inspired by their parents. We best inspire when we share our struggles, reach for our best and model daily character. “Don’t be afraid to share the struggles you experienced,” said Malcolm. “Share how you felt when you went through these difficulties, what you did about them, and could have done bet(continued on page 105)
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Published on Aug 27, 2010
Published on Aug 27, 2010
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