By Heidi Stevens
Your college sophomore is upset you’re going to Paris without her. Should you bring her along?
Parent advice from our panel of staff contributors:
I would. It would be a broadening experience for the kid. And, let’s face it, you’re already on borrowed time in terms of your daughter being able and willing – let alone eager – to spend a significant amount of time with you. Add to those shared experiences and memories while you still can.
– Phil Vettel
If you are already strapped with college payments, it’s time for a reality discussion: “I would love to take you with me, honey, and I appreciate that you want to spend time with me. But I cannot afford it right now, especially with college expenses. Perhaps we could vacation together in the future, once you have graduated. But here are some other things we can afford to do together this summer.”
– Dodie Hofstetter
No way. The kid wants a free trip to Europe, not quality parent time. You’re paying for her “trip” to college. Have fun!
– Bill Daley
“A request to travel with your parents in my generation might have been a little weird, but it’s common these days,” says University of Massachusetts psychology professor Varda Konstam, author of “Parenting Your Emerging Adult: Launching Kids From 18 to 29” (New Horizon Press). “Parents and their adult kids are enjoying the same music, the same books; they have a lot in common.”
So it’s no big deal that she wants to come along. But should she?
“As a parent, I would need to look at my emerging adult and understand the meaning of her wanting to travel with us,” she says. “Is she independent … and able to navigate in the way most of her peers can navigate? Is she well-situated in terms of friendships and managing her college world well? Does she simply love being (with) her parents and want to spend time viewing the world?”
In that case, consider inviting her along.
“Or is she texting me 100 times a day asking me to problem-solve scenarios she could figure out on her own? Does she feel entitled to trips … without being grateful or contributing to the experience?”
In that case, consider encouraging her to save up for her own trip.
“If you’re perpetuating the notion that it’s all about her and she can’t see that her parents are separate entities from her, that can be very debilitating,” Konstam says.
“A kid who doesn’t see him or herself as independent of his or her parents, who doesn’t see the relationship as more reciprocal, who doesn’t understand give-and-take, is really handicapped in friendships and romantic relationships.”
Parents have to be careful not to enable that dynamic.
“We want to encourage our emerging adults to be resilient and experience a set of events they didn’t expect and think, ‘How can I rely on my own resources, even as I utilize the support of others?’” Konstam says.
“When you think about the transformative times in our lives, they’re the times we’ve encountered obstacles and didn’t necessarily know we were going to navigate them successfully. It’s only through those experiences that kids learn they are capable individuals, rather than leaning on their parents to solve any disappointment that comes their way.”
Have a solution? Your son’s pals are getting cars for their 16th birthdays. How do you help him deal with the fact that he’s not? Find “The Parent ’Hood” page on Facebook, where you can post your parenting questions and offer tips and solutions for others to try.