Wednesday’s Parent: Control the control

Remotely controlling the remote control. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Remotely controlling the remote control. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

I pause, fast forward and go back. The power of a remote control is awesome. If only life worked that way, parenting would be a cinch.

The other day I was tempted to aim the TV remote control at the phone while on a call with my daughter. My advice was golden and I feared she wouldn’t take it. I wanted to replay my words a couple of times for emphasis but if she was aiming hers right back, she may have pushed the mute button.

Life would be so less stressful if our children always did what we said and what we wanted. The college process magnifies this. Choosing a major, college and career kick off our children’s adulthood and we parents are used to input plus parenting styles have influence.

But do we really want to raise a “Stepford child?”

As both a parent and a child, I’ve viewed life from both sides now and this is what I’ve learned:

  • On opinions: I don’t always agree or have other family members agree with me. But I share a lot of my parents’ values and beliefs although I am no clone. My children and I have many opinions in common, too but they are not POCSmom robots. The most important thing is we are all comfortable expressing our points of view no matter the topic and regardless of how much our opinions differ.
  • On advice: My kids don’t like unsolicited advice from me any more than I did from my own parents. But when my children seek advice, I do want to be one of their “go to” people. I don’t expect them to follow all my suggestions but I do expect to get a full and fair hearing.
  • On relationships: Time changes relationship dynamics between parents and children as they age. Ready or not, the cycle of parenting life goes from parenting a child to parenting an adult child to parenting a parent. Accepting and adjusting to the new normal is easier with sympathy, empathy and the opposite of apathy.
  • On support: There is a difference between supporting a child and backing up her decision. I want my children to know they must live with the consequences of their decisions and they can always come to me. Mistakes will happen and I will do my very best to banish the words, “I told you so” and replace them with “I’m listening” when they are ready to talk.

Like good college prep, it’s helpful to concentrate on the goal and work backwards to see the best way to achieve it. Raising a child to be an independent, self-supporting good decision maker requires similar preparation. It’s about slowly transferring the control, making open discussion about issues and options routine, giving advice when asked, and being prepared to support them whatever the decision.

For more great insight about teens and college, read Suzanne’s blog about being a control freak and how to control the control. 


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: The green-eyed parent monster


Green eyed monster and parenting

Green eyed monster and parenting

We know what to say to our children when the green-eyed monster shows up but what do we say to ourselves?

Last week Suzanne and I presented ways for parents to deal with rivalries among their college-bound teens. We can relate to similar feelings of jealousy and envy because we’ve been there and done that. Too bad experience doesn’t automatically deflect these negative emotions.

If you fretted about who’s baby sat up, talked and walked first, the parent competition began early for you. By the time kids are teenagers applying to college, the stakes seem higher because they align more with adult issues.

Who gets the higher GPA, the greater SAT score, more offers of college admission, or the most financial aid may seem like bragging rights or bitter resentment. But just as students should be able to share their good or bad news and seek support of their peers, so should parents.

Like many choices in parenting, fending off the green-eyed parent monster involves finding the proper balance. Here are five suggestions:

  1. Be logical Like Mr. Spock, keep emotions in check with your mind. Your instincts may be to dwell on the moment but your intellect will tell you to put this into perspective. Share in the triumphs and sorrows without being an “exaggerating the significance parent.”
  2. Channel the jealousy Turn the negative feeling into a positive by looking at your child with fresh eyes to see if she is on a path to burnout. College-bound teens are under a lot of stress to succeed. Back off if you have been too “authoritative” or step it up if you have been too “lenient.”
  3. Own it The “it” in this case is a parent’s life. Own it, focus on it and live it, not that of your child’s, or you may become a “helicopter parent.” Ask yourself if you are preparing your offspring for adulthood or using it as your own second chance.
  4. Value you Your child will have both accomplishments and failures, each with their own teachable moments. Be there for support to bolster your child’s self-esteem not your own, or you may become a too attached “vicarious parent.” Develop and appreciate your own skills, talents and abilities to enjoy separate interests and activities.
  5. Trade places Mentally trade places, that is, with other parents to better understand what they are going through. Set an example for your child by “being the bigger parent.”

Like parenting styles and personality traits, the green-eyed parent monster may help or hinder college-bound children.

Suzanne is ready on her blog to share her tips about parent competition and the green-eyed parent monster.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

7 Tips to Help Your Child Decrease Their Loan Debt BEFORE Graduation Day


Barrister on a Budget by Jenny L. Maxey

Barrister on a Budget by Jenny L. Maxey

Jenny L. Maxey, author of Barrister on a Budget, and I have teamed up to provide some fresh financial suggestions for parents, the college-bound and students continuing with post-graduate studies. Jenny will focus on tips to help your child decrease student loans BEFORE graduation and I will zoom in on fresh ideas for families to do now, plan for the future, and ask others to step it up.

Enjoy Jenny’s guest post:


7 Tips to Help Your Child Decrease Their Loan Debt BEFORE Graduation Day

Student debt is becoming a heavy burden, and not just for students.  Parents often co-sign for loans to help their child receive funds or even just to help them get a better interest rate.  The scary thing is that in the current economy, many students are unable to find a job that will allow for cost-of-living in addition to the hefty repayments.  And what happens if the student can’t make the payments?  Well, it can be two-fold.  If you co-sign, you are the one responsible to make the payments.  Plus, your child might move home (if you’re feeling the effects of the empty nest, that’s maybe not a bad thing), which can cause your bills to increase.  You’re likely going to be dipping into your retirement funds (or not saving for retirement at all), and then what happens when you retire?  You and your child are going to be stuck paying that student loan bill.  Even declaring bankruptcy, does not get rid of student loan debt.  So before you or your child sign for another loan, take these steps to better not only your child’s future, but yours as well.

  1. Avoid borrowing loans altogether.  Okay, this might sound obvious, but have you and your child looked for opportunities?  I mean really looked?  Scour the internet, local and state organizations, your employers, and corporations, anything you can do to find scholarships.  Then, apply for all of the ones your child qualifies for.  Yes, this can be time consuming, but you could avoid thousands in debt for not much work.  Joining the military is also an option that many don’t consider.  The military can offer partial and sometimes full tuition assistance among other benefits.  And, as some employers give preference to the military, can be the difference in acquiring a job or not in this market.
  2. Graduate early.  If your child is still in high school, take Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  While the exam to receive the college credit can cost $80 – $120 (plus any fees added by the high school), it can be cheaper than the same course in college.  Be sure to inquire about any financial assistance the high school may provide for these courses.  If your child is currently in college, take the full credit load every semester if the tuition is a flat rate (every school is different, so check the policies).  Also, they should use their summers wisely and do an internship that will give them course credit (and maybe some spending money) as well as experience and references!
  3. Pay attention to loan agreements.  Apply for subsidized loans and other need-based loans that will usually cover part or all of the interest payments while your child is in school.  Shop around for the lowest interest rates. Keep documents organized and be aware of your repayment schedule to avoid late fees.  Know the options to make repayment manageable to avoid fees and default.
  4. Negotiate tuition fees.  Schools have some fees that are negotiable.  Fees that are automatically put into your tuition bill, such as gym membership and athletic tickets, can sometimes be opted out of and removed from the bill.  Check with the financial aid office and discuss these options.
  5. Get a job.  If your child can handle working while in school (make sure they are able to maintain a high GPA to open up employment options upon graduation), then get a job…maybe two.  Colleges offer Resident Advisors (RA) and work study programs that are flexible with school hours and offer benefits – reduced housing expenses and free meals for RAs – or payment to pay for educational expenses.  If they get a job off of campus, they can also use the income to pay for educational expenses, decreasing the amount they may be inclined to borrow.
  6. PAY INTEREST!  This one is a biggie! Most student loans have compound interest, which means, if you don’t pay your interest, it adds on to the total amount owed and the next time you are charged interest, the payment is based on the new total.  This can quickly add up!  The original balance owed will be maintained and your child will pay less over the life of the loan if you or they make the interest payments during school.
  7. Teach them how to budget.  Keep track of spending for a month or a semester and create a budget.  Review the spending and determine what areas can be cut back.  Do they really need the $7 Starbucks coffee or the newest iPhone?  Can they buy used books or eBooks for lower prices?  Have they been flashing their student ID as much as possible to get all the discounts on food, entertainment, and transportation possible?  There are free apps available that can easily keep track of budgeting for you, making it readily accessible at each purchase and keeps you in check or there is always Excel Spreadsheet.

Now hop over to read my 10 $$$ ideas for POCS (Parents of College/college-bound Students)


Jenny L. Maxey is the author of Barrister on a Budget:  Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank.  Jenny earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a J.D., and is licensed to practice law in Ohio.  Although her book is geared toward pre-law and law students, most of the information can be easily applied to any level of higher education.  Barrister on a Budget is available on and Barnes & Noble Nook.  You can find more information and follow her blog on

Wednesday’s Parent: College acceptance rivalry

College admission rivalry, photo by Wendy David-Gaines

College admission rivalry, photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When it comes to college admission, there’s a fine line between bragging and sharing the good news. Parents can see the difference written all over their student’s face, especially when their student has a differing experience.

Student reaction depends on which of four categories they fit: those who got an acceptance letter, those who received a rejection letter, those who landed on the waitlist, and those who haven’t heard whether they are in or out of consideration.

The college process is stressful and difficult with a lot riding on the outcome. Although college decisions are not judgements of personal worth, they often affect the fragile self-esteem of high school seniors. Making matters worse, their friends often share a similar college list and even when others receive admission offers, financial aid awards may vary widely.

Student reaction may range the gamut from exultation to depression. This may spill over to interaction with family members and peers. As students receive responses from early decision and early action applications, it’s a good idea to prepare for the wide range of inevitable reactions. Use this time as a teachable moment to guide your family through receipt of all responses for regular admission applications. Students should be able to both share their news and consider other’s feelings.

Here are six topics for parent-student discussions about dealing with college acceptance rivalry:

  1. Just the facts It’s okay to share facts of college responses but be extra careful on social media. Schools can revoke offers of admission and have done so for reasons such as not keeping up grades and tweeting a college “dis.”
  2. Boasting Of course students with good news are bursting to share it and want others to acknowledge their accomplishments. Just be careful not to cross the above-mentioned fine line between bragging and sharing the good news. No one likes a “boaster” but the effects deepen for those with opposite results. Respect their feelings.
  3. Zipping it It’s time to change the subject when no one is asking questions or contributing comments. There will be plenty of future opportunities to chat when everyone has something to share.
  4. Silence is golden It’s okay not to want to talk college now. There’s a difference between brooding and wanting to focus on other things.
  5. Separate and different Learning how to support others is a demonstration of compassion that is separate from dealing with one’s own issues. It’s a sign of maturity and self-confidence to be happy for others or have their back when things don’t go well.
  6. Making lemonade from lemons Dealing with bad news is a life skill. Start early with a commitment to brainstorm options, look for the positive, and find the fun in tackling new challenges.

Suzanne’s great post Rivalries among college-bound teens is full of more help for dealing with college admission rivalry.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 6 great examples to cure Senioritis

Cures for Senioritis

Cures for Senioritis

If you are having trouble getting motivated to get back to work after the December holidays, you may be suffering from seniorits.  This troubling “disease” is usually associated with high school seniors but the joy of the passed holiday season, vacation breaks, and winter doldrums can afflict parents and students of all ages.

Take a cue from six great examples to get well quick and cure senioritis:

  1. Darwin High school seniors fixated on the following fall, dream only of college admission. But letting current grades slide may turn into lost college credit for college level courses or rescinding of college admission offers. Senioritis may also strike at the job performance of other students and of parents where the stakes are also high. Take a cue from Darwin’s evolutionary studies and adjust to the new normal. Direct attention to planning and organizing a daily schedule to refocus for living in the present.
  2. Twilight Zone A huge reason for high school seniors’ senioritis is the feeling of being in suspended animation or biding time until reaching the next milestone. Other students and parents may also feel bored after the holiday frenzy. But time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted at any stage of life. Step out of the senioritis version of a Twilight Zone episode and back into reality. There is so much more to learn, accomplish and make a difference, now.
  3. Survivalists High school seniors, other students and parents plagued with senioritis may be listless, tired and inattentive. There are a plethora of survivalist television shows that demonstrate motivation to keep going despite adversity, evaluate current resources to maximize their usefulness, and devise creative ways to survive and thrive.
  4. Olympics Lack of energy is a big symptom of senioritis for students and parents. The XXII Olympic Winter Games begin on Friday, Feb. 7 and Olympic athletes embody the antithesis of lethargy. Get inspired and get moving by getting involved in a favorite sport, exercise or activity.
  5. LOL Seniroitis victims often suffer from a pervasive sadness. High school seniors, other students and parents could shrug off those blues with a hefty dose of hearty laugher. Late night talk show monologues, comedian performances, stage comedies, joke books, the funnies, sitcoms and comedic movies may bring on belly laughs, clear the mind, and encourage positive attitudes.
  6. Search and rescue High school seniors, other students and parents may feel temporarily lost with seniroitis. There are many heroes of 2013’s disasters who saved themselves and others from catastrophe. Shake up stale routines with a twist on search and rescue skills. Finding the fun and planning something special may be just the remedy to cure seniorities and get back to business.

For more ideas about senioritis, head over to Suzanne’s great post.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!


Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Change New Year’s Resolutions into Selfie-Recommendations

New Year's Selfie Recommendation, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

New Year’s Selfie Recommendation, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

A fresh start can begin at any time but there is something about the dawning of a new year that brings out the hope for something better. That’s what prods many New Year’s resolutions. But good intentions often get lost in the priority list of life’s realities.

Whether you are a POCS (Parent Of a College/college-bound Student) or a teen on the verge of adulthood, a to-do list of want to’s is common. If you make it a habit to follow then fail New Year’s Resolutions then it’s time for a new approach.

Take a cue from the the popular selfie photos and instead of resolutions, write yourself a selfie-recommendation

Recommendation letters are usually written by colleagues and bosses for employment and by teachers and school counselors for college admission. Take fifteen minutes to use the concept to highlight your strengths, gain confidence, and resolve to achieve more.

Use this template and quotes from and the statements based on 5 Steps to Writing an Amazing LinkedIn Recommendation to write your selfie-recommendation letter:

1. Start With a Knockout Line

The first sentence does double duty as self-descriptive and complimentary. In a typical recommendation letter, “Ideally, this line will show right away what an awesome person your recommendee is.” A selfie-recommendation allows you to self-evaluate, feel good about yourself, and be motivated to do more by concentrating on the positive, such as:

“It’s rare to come across someone with my planning ability to set goals and achieve them.”

“Few people have my positive attitude to view challenges as learning opportunities and puzzles to be solved rather than setbacks as roadblocks.”

“‘Ridiculously efficient’ is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about myself and my time management skills.”

2. Describe Your Relationship

Next, put your great quality in context. In a recommendation letter, this is “why you’re qualified to give the recommendation.” In a selfie-recommendation, it’s the areas that showcase your positive attributes, for example:

“I thoroughly research vacation destinations, plan the itineraries and get rave reviews from my family such as ‘best vacay ever!’”

“Concerned with my family’s health, I motivated my fast food loving family to eat healthier by cooking with healthy ingredients and reusing leftovers in new ways which were delicious, lowered the food budget and raised our level of health.”

“I organize my schedule daily, using my time efficiently, fitting work/school with extracurricular and social activities.”

3. Share a Standout Trait

Now that you’ve identified what you do great, it’s time to address an area that needs improvement. A recommendation letter focuses on “one or two things this person does better than anything else — or that really stand out to you above others.” A selfie-recommendation addresses a talent or skill to be developed to help reach a new goal, such as:

“I will develop the talent to handle even the toughest situations effortlessly.”

“My patience will grow so I can better listen, understand and work together with others.”

“I will acquire better organizational skills to clear the clutter at home.”

4. Add a Touch of Personality

Identify a specific personality trait of yours that will help you achieve your goal. Recommendation letters “share a tidbit about what it’s like to work with this person or some insight into his or her personality.” A selfie-recommendation relies on an existing trait that is related or motivating, like:

“I am level-headed so I can expand that ability to handle difficult situations without drama.”

“I’m a people-person, so I will enjoy learning more about others.”

“Efficiency is my middle-name so I can use my time management skills to  organize my environment.”

5. End With Your Solid Recommendation

Finally, provide a concrete example of what you seek to accomplish. In a recommendation letter, it’s “a final line that makes it clear that you give your contact an enthusiastic thumbs-up.” A selfie-recommendation shows how the new ability could be used. For example, based on the new challenges college prep will bring to your family:

“I will be prepared to brainstorm alternatives, find great solutions to unexpected problems and meet challenges even under pressure with humor, grace and focus.”

“I’ll be a team player, ready to (help my child or ask for parental help to) navigate the college process.”

“I will get more things done in an organized space to better handle additional college prep activities.”

Enjoy writing your selfie-recommendation and read it every morning to jump start your day.

Read Suzanne’s post for another approach to New Year’s Resolutions.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.