Asked and Answered:

Managing the Transition to College

Many of the problems parents and students have with the college transition come from confusion about whose problems they really are. Get clear on ownership of both rights and responsibilities. Stepping in and taking over problems that are theirs, not ours, shields them from responsibility for living their own lives  and presents us with dilemmas we can’t and shouldn’t solve for them.  Ask yourself these questions:

. Are  you responsible for their grades, conduct, or life choices?

. Do you have a right to know how they’re doing academically?

. What can you do to make their college adjustment easier?

Q. Our freshman daughter is flunking two courses, living off-campus, and generally running wild. She won’t listen to our advice, ignores our letters and phone calls, and just pierced her nose! What can we do?

A .Unless you’ve tied your financial aid to her grade point average, her academic performance is between her and her college. You might insist that she move into a dorm or find a supervised living situation until her grades improve and suggest that she take fewer or less demanding courses until she’s adjusted to college life. And ask her to take out her nose ring for Thanksgiving at Grandmother’s.

Q. My son has been on academic probation since the first semester and will have to go to summer school to stay in college next year. Why didn’t we find this out earlier when we could have helped him? And who should pay for his make-up courses?

 A.In high school you had to sign his report card, but the Family Education and Privacy Act mandates that students, not parents, get their transcripts, regardless of who’s paying the bill. It’s his responsibility to pay for summer school, not yours, even if he has to take a semester off and get a job to accomplish this.

Q. Our daughter is so homesick she can’t eat, sleep or study. Should we suggest that she withdraw from college, come home and commute to a school closer to home?

 A.Most freshmen go through a siege of homesickness, and in most cases it’s not severe enough to take such drastic measures. Many kids don’t feel like college is “home” until after Christmas vacation. Meanwhile, stay in touch through letters, calls and e-mails. Familiarize yourself with the counseling facilities at her school and suggest that she take advantage of them.

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Personal Coaching for Anxious Parents

connect with the coachNow you can connect with the Post-Parent Coach for an introductory personal coaching session that will give you a whole new perspective on your relationship with your adult children, learn strategies and techniques to improve your communication with them, change the way you deal with their problems , cope with having them back under your roof, and move them toward independence. It just could be the best $100 you ever spent! If you’re ready to make a better connection with your grown child, make one with the coach first! Just e-mail me with a brief description of the situation and the most convenient times to “meet” by phone. Pay via Pay Pal, confirm the date and time of our teleconference, and let’s talk!

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New Help for Parents of Young Addicts

As a post-parent coach, I’ve counseled many parents who’ve had to cope with a young adult’s substance abuse. I’ve followed them through the bewildering array of options for addicts, ranging from in-patient rehab to day treatment, 12-step programs to professional interventionists and individualized or family therapy. Depending on their typical parenting style, most have already tried the standard continuum of approaches from lecturing, nagging, and punishing to some version of tough love best described as “my way or the highway.” When none of those worked, they Googled the appropriate key words – teenagers, addiction, drug and alcohol treatment, recovery centers – and found glowing testimonials by parents (presumably) identified only by their initials or beautiful images of healthy young people tossing a volleyball on the beach. Neither the price tag or the outcome statistics appear on most of those web sites because they’re extremely expensive and difficult to substantiate.

Since much of what passes for expertise in the addiction community lacks strong, evidence-based proof that it works, finding your way to something affordable that does is often largely a matter of luck. While family therapy can be successful with teenagers who live at home, it’s difficult to engage with an autonomy-seeking young adult who doesn’t, and although ” family day” is common at most residential treatment centers, it tends to be light on skills training for parents and heavy on confessions, amends and apologies. Yet teaching parents how, when and what to do when an “adultolescent” has an issue with drinking or drugging is the first and often most effective way to address it.

CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training) is a program with exceptionally strong outcome statistics on getting young adults into treatment;; studies on the science of change bear out the fact that that parents and/or immediate family members are the best influencers of addicts. The tools and techniques of CRAFT are based on a behavior modification approach that focuses on communication skills, reinforcement strategies, self-care and problem-solving, all of which are taught and illustrated in an engaging, professionally produced, interactive and self-paced on-line course that makes it both affordable and more widely available than finding a therapist, provider or practitioner trained in the method. Now CadenceOnLine has partnered with a leading provider of mental health care to children and adolescents and translated CRAFT into the first if not the last step in getting young adults to recognize and take steps toward solving their problems by teaching their families how to support them in doing so.

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