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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Shred Credit Card Offers and Other Advice for the New Grad

By Kim Seidel

It’s a bittersweet time when a child graduates from high school and prepares for college. The mix of strong emotions and new information can make the process of transitioning from high school to college overwhelming for both parents and children. Here are some tips for making it a little easier.

1. Discuss how college courses will differ from high school classes. Talk to your children about how, depending on the area of study, college-level material is typically more abstract than high school work. Let them know that more synthesis, evaluation, and research will be required than in high school, where they probably practiced more memorization than analysis.

2. Help kids to make choices that honor their true selves. “Don’t force [your kids] to [take on] the family business or follow the career path you wish you had taken,” says Lissa Raines, author of 8 Crucial Realities: Successful Choices for Graduates (B&H Publishing Group, 2011).

And, she says, “don’t fall into the trap of guiding them toward a lucrative career just because the money is good. Guide them according to their God-given aptitudes and passions.”

While it’s important to help your kids figure out what they love to do, it’s also necessary to help them gauge their weaknesses.

“Do not tell your kids that they can do or be whatever they want to be,” she says. “It just isn’t true.”

Do, however, help them pick out new activities that tap into their interests and challenge them. And make sure they know that their worth as a person is not based on the ease or difficulty of the course of study they choose or how successful they are at achieving their goals.

3. Teach graduates to ask for guidance. Let your children know that it’s okay to ask for a helping hand if the workload and stress are too much for them, or if they feel homesick.

“Let them know many students need help, especially in their freshman year,” Raines says.

Counselors on campus can provide a listening ear while student study centers can offer tutors for that extra push through a hard course.

4. Set up a budget. Kids may be in the dark about how much money they will spend at college. After all, you’ve taken care of their needs for their entire lives. Figure out how much they will need to earn to cover basic items such as clothing, food, gas, and entertainment, says Raines, and then help them create a realistic budget.

Kids are relentlessly pursued by credit card companies, says Raines, so teach them how to firmly say No to telemarketers, and to shred mailed credit-card offers to better avoid identity theft.

5. Communicate with respect. From choosing a school to figuring out what to buy for the dorm room, the transition from college to high school requires a lot of discussion. Allow your new graduate to express his or her opinions with freedom.

“Resist harsh rebukes and condemnation for their choices,” Raines advises. “When graduates feel respected, they are more likely to seek your advice.” And that’s helpful when you see them headed toward a bad situation.

6. Encourage good habits. While kids don’t want their parents to nag them, you can get away with occasionally reminding them to do things like eat right and get enough sleep. The most effective way to get your children to develop healthy habits is to adopt them yourself. Making positive diet and exercise choices as well as modeling perseverance, hard work, and an attitude of gratefulness “will encourage them to do likewise,” Raines says.

7. Offer unconditional love. Many teenagers and early 20-somethings make pretty big mistakes. When they mess up, let your children know that you will always love them, no matter what.

“That doesn’t mean enabling them to live recklessly or rescuing them from the consequences of their actions,” Raines says. “It does mean emotionally being there for them and not turning your back on them when they fall.”

Kim Seidel is a writer and mom of two daughters, one of whom is inching her way toward high school graduation.