By Valerie Newman
What advice will you give your college-bound teen? For your first born, your speech might be long and teary. The advice for a teen boy may be to take college seriously and act responsibly. For a teen girl, you might offer ways she can protect herself from the opposite sex. And with your last little bundle of joy, you might wax sentimental, or just dump and run.
The most influential factor, though, is probably your teen son or daughter’s personality. Advice to the wild, impulsive kid who pushed every one of your buttons for 18 years will be quite different than advice to the college-bound straight-laced nerd.
My friend used to say that she needed to hire a nanny for her first two kids; but she joked that she needed to find a private detective for her last one. She researched Ivy leagues for the first two and worried that she’d be looking at jails with the third. I bet her talk with her calm, well-behaved kids will sound quite different than the chat she’ll have with her “terror.”
Another friend shared his list of dos and don’ts that he’s just presented his happy-go-lucky, scatterbrained son:
- Maintain at least a “B” average, or find someone else to pay the 50k tuition.
- Don’t sleep until 11:00am every morning, get involved in the college community.
- Watch out for tramps (used that exact word!) and wear a condom.
- Don’t bring home a high-maintenance girlfriend because I can barely deal with your mom and your sister.
- Don’t get in a car with anyone who is drunk.
- Don’t do drugs, or you could end up in the hospital or dead.
- Be smart about spending money.
I smiled as I read this, just picturing his son nodding but not paying a bit of attention to one word. I replied with a very different list for my studious and responsible son.
- Get one C so that I know you’re having some fun.
- Allow yourself one day when your classes don’t start until 11:00am so you can sleep late.
- Bring home a girlfriend to lighten you up.
- If you do find yourself with a tramp, use a condom.
- Don’t sniff, inhale or ingest anything unless your doctor prescribed it.
- Spend some money: There’s no pocket in a shroud.
I doubt that my suggestions will change my son’s behavior. But I did start to wonder what other friends were telling their kids as they prepared to send them off on this adventure called college.
What are you going to say or what have you already said?