Student Life

College parenting books — Our top picks

6 good reads for new (or soon-to-be) college parents!

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.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money

The Essential Parenting Guide To The College Years

Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send MoneyBy Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller

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:

  • What’s on your mind
  • What’s on your student’s mind
  • What’s going on
  • What to do
  • What to avoid
  • What you need to know

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.

You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me)

Mentoring Your Child During the College Years

You're on Your Own (But I'm Here if you Need Me)By Marjorie Savage

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.

I’ll Miss You Too: What Will Change, What Will Not, and How We’ll Stay Connected

I'll Miss You Too: What will change, what will not, and how we'll stay connected.
(Also known as . . . Doors Open from Both Sides: The Off-to-College Guide from Two Points of View: Parents and Students; and I’ll Miss You Too, An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students) By Margo E. Bane Woodacre and Steffany BaneThis big-hearted tome creatively presents how parents and students feel throughout the liberation process. It is authored by a mother and daughter and provides the unique viewpoints of each as they moved through the same phases. The book is introspective and emotional, ruminating on what mother and daughter misunderstand about one another. It’s one particular family’s experience but it doesn’t feel limited. The perspectives offered are informative and instructive. Parents will appreciate reading the daughter’s take on every given situation. If you can convince your student to read the mother’s side, more power to you. It’s all good stuff.

The iConnected Parent

Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting them Grow Up

The iConnected ParentBy Barbara K. Hofer, Ph.D. and Abigail Sullivan Moore

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.

The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only

The Naked Roommate
By Harlan CohenHere is your upbeat alternative, a witty account of what to expect during your student’s college years. It’s long but easily referenced with a lot of graphical diversions, white spaces and information chunks. It’s a sort of USA Today version of the genre — tight, entertaining writing accompanied by thought-provoking data. But the book offers more than it appears. At the heart of Cohen’s message is the idea that parents and students need to welcome a dose of pain into their experience. He does this not so we can learn how to avoid pain, but rather how to grow from it.

The UniversityParent Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year

The UniversityParent Guide to Supporting your Student's Freshman Year
And here is your practical go-to guide, the perfect accompaniment to any of the books above. Our guide is rich in easy-to-access, pragmatic information and emotional insight. Parents tell us they find themselves reaching for it non-stop from summer to spring. To create this guide, UniversityParent reached out to a community of writers who are experts in different facets of college life, giving it a nice variety of voices and perspectives. Covering the practical and emotional sides of everything from move-in day to Parents’ Weekend, Greek Life, wellness, majors, minors, spring break and much more, it’s concentrated and completely accessible.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from  fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.

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