Why I Love Having A Adult Relationship With My Sons

 

Let Go

I have two sons in their twenties and often read articles written by parents about the woes of letting go. They often lament about how much they miss their kids after they go off to college and about how sad they are. Consequently, I am often asked by people if I miss my sons. I don’t really miss my sons because I still speak to them on a regular basis and they are still very much a part of my life. In fact, we utilize technology and have them participate in special family dinners via skype or facetime. I like having more time to myself, as well as having extra time with my spouse alone. Plus we make the time to visit each other in person occasionally and I still have one more teenager at home.

Yes, I cried both times my two sons left for college. However, I did not wish that things were not changing and I did not wish that they were still living at home; the tears were of concern. Did I teach them enough to be out on their own? Would the world be kind to them? The tears were also of excitement and relief. I am very fortunate that after lots of research, my sons both found colleges where they would experience great joy and make lifelong friendships just like I did when I went off to college.

Having my sons go off to college was the culmination of a process that started off when they were in middle school and they started making major strides toward independence. I never had an expectation that my sons would stay at home. I knew that I had to start preparing them to be independent and to go out on their own. I had to let go of the dreams that I had for them and begin to help them develop dreams of their own.

There are Benefits to “Letting Go”.

I Have Grown as a Person. Going through the teenage years with my sons and daughter, I have learned to be more patient. Furthermore, Discussions with my young adult sons have helped me become a better listener and have expanded my world view. I have also become more adept at handling chaotic and ever changing situations.

My Sons Have Developed a Great Support System. My sons have chosen great friends that share their interests and values. My sons have also maintained a relationship with their siblings and developed great relationships with teachers, co-workers, and other adults along the way. I can give them advice and help them work through the pros and cons of making certain decisions. However, their friends, siblings, and adult mentors can also give them valuable advice from a different perspective.

The World Is A Better Place. My sons have gone on to do things that I did not imagine. They contribute and give back to the community. My oldest son does cancer research and my middle son is the academic chair at his fraternity. I am so proud of the young adults that they have become.

I am very fortunate to have enjoyed every stage of life for my children from the time that they were infants until now. Of course, there have been challenging times as there will always be from time to time. However, each stage of life is different and special in its own way. I look forward to what the future brings.

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens has programs for both parents and teens to help teens create their own unique path to college success.

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Congratulations! You Have a Teenager

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Shortly after my first son was born, I had a conversation with my father. I was feeling guilty about having to leave my 8 week old infant son with a babysitter. At the time, my father took me aside. He told me that while this may be a trying time. It is a time when other people can easily help and take care of your child’s physical needs. However, he said a more critical time when your child will need you is during the teen years. At the time, I didn’t believe him. It seems contrary to the message that society sends about children being more self-sufficient and mothers going back to work when their children start school. However, now that my third child is a teenager. I know that he is right. Teenagers may not need you physically but they need you emotionally.

The first moment I realized that I had a teenager didn’t come when my child blew out the candles on his thirteenth birthday. It came when my child was in the 5th grade at age 10. He came home upset because there was a group of kids going around asking a question dealing with adult subject matter.  I realized we had come to the time of parenting that is truly hard, “the teen years”. The time when I had to take the time to teach my child lessons that he would truly use for a lifetime. I had to take the time to listen and resist the urge to jump in and fix things.

This moment in time was the first of many teachable moments. Moments in time that caught me off guard and made me pause to deal with the situation. It would be so much easier to just tell him what to do but I had to take the time out to explain the details. These are the moments that truly prepared my son to go out on his own. I truly believe that one of the greatest gifts that you can give a teen is the tools to be independent.

Was there a moment when you realized you were the parent of a teenager? I’d love to hear your story. Make a comment and let me know.

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for tweens, teens, and parents that help teens define success while keeping parents engaged in the process. Check out our current event schedule at http://www.pathways4teens.com

Why My Teens Got Gifts From Santa?

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On Monday my son went back to college after being home for the holidays, so now I’m back to a normal routine. As I reflect back on the last few weeks, I think it will be remembered for years to come as a truly special holiday in which we relaxed and spent lots of time together. One event I will remember is when my teens awoke to see special gifts from Santa in front of our Christmas tree.

Yes, we sat our teens down years ago and told them that Santa doesn’t physically exist. However, I told them that the spirit of Santa is alive and well. Santa represents the spirit of giving to others. Each Christmas we take the time to give back to others. When our teens were younger, they actively participated in choosing gifts for families off of tags at the Christmas giving tree from their school or the mall. We also actively gave to food drives. This year, we continued the tradition and spent a Saturday morning packing food at the food bank.

Santa also represents hopes and dreams. It’s important, no matter how old you get, to always dream and have faith that those dreams can come true. Now that our children are older, their Santa gifts have a deeper meaning than when they were younger. My oldest son, who is in his twenties, has graduated from college and does cancer research. He received a cross necklace with the inscription of the Lord’s Prayer. It is the ultimate symbol of faith and courage which is often needed when you’re out on your own. My son, who is in college, received a watch. A lasting reminder that one of the keys to success in college is the ability to manage your time. My daughter who is in high school received special earrings with her birthstone. A reminder of how special she is during a time in life when we often question how good we are compared to other people.

What was truly special about these Santa gifts was that my husband and I picked them out together. The task of picking Santa gifts has often been something that I do on my own. However, the holiday was truly special and I feel very fortunate to have had the time together. I know that one day my children may have families of their own and that they will be the ones giving gifts from Santa.

Pathways 4 Teens helps families make educational choices through student leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at miriam@pathways4teens.com or 602-999-3892 or Visit www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on helping teens define success for themselve! 

Dream College

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Well the waiting continues for some senior high school students, including my son. Many of the top private colleges are sending their acceptance letters out over the next week or so. My son applied to his dream school of Stanford University which also happens to be the Alma Mater of my husband and I. Stanford will have a 5.5% acceptance rate this year. It gets more competitive every year but you never know if you will get in, if you don’t apply.

I am concerned by how many students I talk to who don’t have a dream college that they apply to. They are concerned about how much the college costs to attend or worse than that, they don’t think that they are good enough because they don’t have a 5.0 GPA and perfect SAT scores. In both cases, you really don’t know the answer to these questions until after you apply. Many students make wrong assumptions. Let’s take these topics one at a time.

Of course everyone should be concerned about the cost of college, it is a big deal. The problem is that you never know the true cost of what it is going to cost you to attend until you apply, get accepted, get financial aid offers from schools, and any outside scholarship offers. Most college websites now have a net price calculator that gives a more realistic idea of overall costs including tuition, room and board, and internal scholarships. However, remember it doesn’t take everything into account and your cost may be even lower. Once again, you never know the true cost until after you apply.

The topic I have a bigger concern with is student’s who think that they are not good enough. You need to understand that many of the major private universities are looking for overall diversity in culture, thought, interests, etc. Many students with high GPA and test scores will not get accepted. College websites  list average test scores of accepted students. Hence, many students that were accepted have scores that are below the average for that school. Colleges are looking at your overall academic preparedness. Can you come to their school and complete the coursework successfully? They understand that students are human and are sometimes going to fumble. Perhaps as a Freshman, you got a “C” in a class that you didn’t have interest in or that was a lower level class that you went on to excel in at upper levels. In fact, figuring out what you don’t like to do can be just as important as discovering interests that you do have and recovery from failures is a good thing. It can prove that you are resilient.

So I encourage students to dream and parents to encourage your students to dream. A dream college should not be chosen based on rankings or where parents went. It should be based on a student’s interests and what they think the ideal academic, social, and physical environment is.

Pathways 4 Teens offers services to help students determine the Right Fit College and for parents to help guide students in the process. Visit http://www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on how to empower students to be successful in high school, college, and beyond!

Choosing the Right College Starts in Middle School/Junior High

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The New Year is the perfect time to set resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. In fact, it is a critical goal setting and transition time for teens choosing classes or a college for next school year. There is a study that shows overall only 30% of college students are satisfied with the college that they go to. As seniors begin to get acceptance letters and continue applying for colleges, it is important to take the time out to do research to determine whether the college you choose to attend is a good fit for you.

A good fit isn’t the college that has the highest ranking or the college that gives you the most scholarships. A good fit college provides the support systems that you need to be successful. Hence, the best way to determine if a college is a good fit, is to start with yourself.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, while at the same time being open to change and the exploration of new possibilities.

Only by trying new things do we know what we like. Likes and dislikes are a subjective thing that only students themselves can determine. In our era of specialization, with club sports where students play the same sport year-round and specialty high school programs that put students on a bio medical or engineering track of coursework, it is important to allow our students to explore and discover the whole of who they are. This process starts well before senior year in high school. Beginning with puberty, especially in middle school/junior high, it’s important for parents to give students the tools to discover their own uniqueness and start directing their own future