By Robin Noble
The shelves buckle beneath books written for parents of rising college freshmen.
The titles we explore here are engaging and informative, offering a variety of perspectives and styles. All address a critical concept: the ways in which today’s parents can positively influence their students while simultaneously emancipating them.
Authors Johnson and Schelhas-Miller offer parents ways to be a more empathetic and authoritative force in their college students’ increasingly independent lives. The authors anticipate an array of scenarios in which rising freshmen and current college students may find themselves: failing grades, poor time management, roommate issues, new religions, politics, pregnancy and more (covering a lot of ground). It then gives parents beforehand intelligence to converse on those topics effectively. Each scenario comes with a breakdown from key points of view:
Using this format, the book unfolds as an extraordinary presentation of facts, feelings and strategies. It includes examples of unsuccessful conversations we’ve all had (reactive, unhelpful), and provides an alternative approach (empathetic, authoritative) that yields mutual respect and allows students to move forward independently. Written with a healthy dose of respect for student and parent perspectives, it demonstrates the benefits of open questions, listening, curiosity, and an advisory style.
This brightly informative book offers a reality check to parents and students fresh off the college recruitment ride. Savage foresees in great detail some of the “settled” aspects of college life — what may come up a few months, or a semester or two, in. In doing so, she reminds parents to expect the shine to fade and anticipate what might arise so we can offer greater wisdom and guidance. The book moves quickly with clear language, sections and subtitles. It describes things parents might be unaware of, like the legal rights of students over the age of 18 to keep health and academic information to themselves (who wants to learn that fun fact in the heat of the moment?). Additionally, Savage offers a practical section on finance that includes budgeting worksheets for students.
This eye opener has received a lot of attention since its 2010 publication. Rich in facts and insights, the book raises serious questions about the unchecked parental use of technology to communicate with students when they leave for college (and beyond). In a deeply reported account, the book persuades us that there is indeed such a thing as technology balance — and we need to strive for it. Hofer and Moore give scholarly consideration to how much parent-student communications have changed in a single generation, and how those changes have spurred a much more involved parenting style. They ask us to look up from our own screens for a moment and consider what impacts this changes might have on our students’ budding independence. Importantly, The iConnected Parent addresses an issue unfolding for us in real time, and shows parents how to get out in front of it.
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