Declaration of Independence – Part II

As I prep to head to the Wilmington, NC New Student Reception, I am preposting the second article on parenting that might be of interest. I should say as a disclaimer a couple of things: 1) this is from the New York Times, so you either need a subscription or to use your free articles to view for the month, and 2) for all these articles I post, I offer them as suggestions. Reasonable people can disagree with the article’s positions, and that is fine. They are just food for thought and for thoughtful conversation within your family.

This article is entitled How to Help a Teenager Be College-Ready and this was certainly helpful for me as a mom of a hopeful WFU Class of ’27.

“In adolescence, we expect more initiative and investment regarding duties and obligations, but most parents don’t abdicate oversight altogether. In other words, the parent and adolescent co-own the adolescent’s responsibilities.

The most reliable signal that the transition to emerging adulthood has begun is evidence that the child has begun taking sole ownership of these responsibilities — independent of parental involvement — via personal initiative and follow-through.”

The article, which was written by a psychologist, goes on to talk about three important ways that teens need to take ownership – over medical and behavioral health, academics, and administrative tasks. A couple excerpts:

“By junior year, we want to see students taking ownership of their academic careers. This shows up not necessarily in grades, but in academic initiative — schedule planning and management, and learning when and how to seek help. Specifically, we want to see college-bound students mapping the connection between their current academic performance and future life plans.

They need to know how to pay attention in class, take notes, do their homework and turn it in on time, study for tests….

The third signal of readiness involves mundane life tasks — maintaining a calendar, meeting deadlines, filling out forms. Parents supervise these matters throughout childhood and adolescence, but college students must manage them on their own.

I’m a mom and I fight these feelings of when to jump in vs. when to let Class of ’27 live and learn all the time. It doesn’t help that there seems to be this pervasive fear that if we don’t supervise and oversee our kids, they are going to miss some tremendous opportunity or lose out on something big. It is hard to push against that anxiety. Believe me – I get it.

But in the end, we have to play the long game, not the short game. Allowing our kids to take ownership (even through hard-learned lessons sometimes), is probably way more helpful than our actually helping them. It can be our own Declaration of Independence – which will lead to their independence 🙂

Enough philosophizing – time to wish you and your families a great weekend. We can’t wait to get our Deacs back on campus with us!


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