Debbie Gross, LCSW, Ltd. - Individual, Marital & Family Therapy

Recent Posts

Memories of Youthful Fun
As Thanksgiving Approaches
Top Five Parenting Questions
The Latest on Technology...


Entertaining Kids
Internet and Cell Phone Safety
Positive Behavior
Setting limits
Social Learning
Substance Use
Taking Care of Ourselves
Underage Drinking
powered by

One Therapist's Reflections

How to Parent from Afar

From August 30, 2009

Many of you have just gotten back from taking your child(ren) to college. I, too, am in that group. Nikki & Jamie, my identical twins, are starting their sophomore year at University of Illinois. While this year was MUCH easier than last, I still have the 3 W’s - wonder about how they are managing, worry about their safety, and wish for their happiness and success. So I thought this blog entry would focus on parents’ roles while children are away from home.

When children are little, parents really are problem solvers. Kids come to us with a problem, and we help them with the best solution. If their Barbie doll needs a clothing change and their little fingers can’t manage it, we take the Barbie, change the clothes, and just like that, we’re the heroes. As they enter school, we arrange their play-dates, talk to the teacher about how they learn best, and help negotiate the learning process, both with academics and friends. By middle school, our role needs to shift; we can no longer just provide a fix for their problems. At this point, we need to shift our assistance to help them gain independence in problem-solving techniques. We can empathize with their feelings, help them brainstorm solutions, and watch as they put their solution in place, hoping that all will work out well. If it doesn’t, we’re right there help them cope with the disappointment and to start the process over again. In high school, some parents don’t even hear about their kids’ problems! When we do, the best course of action is to be a great listener. Any advice we offer at this stage is usually ignored or rebuffed, and instead of the heroes we once were, now we are reduced to “oh, mom, you just don’t get it!” It’s not that we have changed, but when a teenager, who is trying to develop independence skills, is told a possibly obvious solution, the teen feels inadequate and lashes out at the ones who can take it the most – parents.

So, we have supported, advised and listened and now our little baby has grown up and is ready to take his or her first steps in that next stage of life. What do we do now?

The most common question I hear is, “How often should we be in touch?” Back in the “olden” days, when I was at college, there was no immediate access as there is today. We usually “signaled” our family on Sunday at 10 a.m. You know, call the house, let it ring once, and hang up. That way, the long distance call was on our parents’ dime! They would call back, and each parent would take turns speaking to us – usually with us repeating the same stories over and over. If a sibling was at home, we might have to do it again! With the innovative technology of today, free calling and texting on cell phones, 24/7 access, Internet capability, video chatting, all raise the question of how much is too much?

Sometimes, you will get calls that send worry-chills down your spine: roommate issues, class snafus, alcohol-related incidents, accidents or illnesses. There is a part of every parent that wants to get in a car or on a plane, rush to the aid of your child, and make it better. But we know that those skills we have been developing through the years – listening, offering advice if we are asked, and knowing that even poorly managed or unresolved issues all provide a learning ground for our developing adults. We want everything to go perfectly, but in reality, it’s how they manage through the tough times and learn how to deal with disappointments that really pave the way to adulthood. Give them the strength to manage on their own. Tell them that if it something is important to them, it is worth the struggle to get their needs or wants met. With those tools, success is just around the corner - for both your young adult and you as a college parent!


11 Comments to How to Parent from Afar:

Comments RSS
best thesis writing services on Saturday, July 14, 2018 7:06 AM
Many of you have just gotten back from taking your children to college when children are little parents really a problem solve. Kids come to us with a problem and we help them with best solution so we are supported, advised and listened and now our little baby has grown up.
Reply to comment
what is the best federal resume writing service on Wednesday, December 05, 2018 4:24 AM
As a parent, I can relate to this. As much as I would like to be with my kids 24/7, I still would like them to grow independently. It is also important that they know how to make decisions responsibly. Life is tough, so they must always remain strong. But it does not mean that I will just always let them on their own. It is my role to guide them and open them into new and rational perspectives.

Jaime on Friday, September 07, 2018 6:30 AM
I am visit here different post of in the blog. Some doctor together working for the good. I am appreciate in the work. Heavy duty tarps online for sale
Reply to comment

best gymnastic mats for home use on Thursday, September 27, 2018 1:08 AM
Perfect detail description about how to Parent from Afar, I am just visiting your website first time through google and must want to say thanks for making this post....
Reply to comment

Henry on Friday, October 19, 2018 8:28 AM
This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am truly pleasant to read everything at one place. continue reading
Reply to comment

aaa on Tuesday, November 06, 2018 10:47 PM
thank you!
Reply to comment

folding gymnastic mats for home on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 3:15 AM
Wonderful article, This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am truly peasant to read everything at one place. I will bookmark your blog to get future updates.
Reply to comment

london bricks online on Thursday, November 08, 2018 6:41 AM
It’s very readable and highly intelligent. You have even managed to make it understandable and easy to read.
Reply to comment

BrianSBowman on Monday, November 19, 2018 8:35 AM
Informative post. I am really happy to read this news that now no more visa-free travel to canada for Antiguan citizens. I am appreciate your post. Thanks and carry on it. [url=""]Anytrans crack[/url]
Reply to comment

mickle on Monday, November 19, 2018 8:57 AM
I am just visiting your website first time through google and must want to say thanks for making this post.... WINDOWS 10 PRODUCT KEY
Reply to comment

Oman on Sunday, December 02, 2018 11:41 PM
Nice blog. Fantastic! I love this much mavis beacon typing games free online
Reply to comment

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Email Address: (Required)
Make your text bigger, bold, italic and more with HTML tags. We'll show you how.
Post Comment
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint