Tip Tuesday (for Parents): Talking to Your College-age Kids about Their Future

We know there’s a good chance your college-aged kid will be home and sitting around the table with you and possibly your extended friends and family on Thursday. They will be thrilled to be home and have a break! Relax, catch-up on their laundry and TV and see old friends. Guess what they don’t want to do? Talk about what they’re going to do after graduation!!

We’ve found that it can be tricky for parents and their college-aged children to have productive discussions about the future. Over Thanksgiving Break in particular, students are stressed out about finals and want to completely avoid thinking too far ahead, while parents are overly eager, ask too many questions and their child shuts down. Here are our recommendations for parent/child interactions this holiday week:

Have some fun! Give them a short break from thinking about school and their future.

Don’t overwhelm them. You can engage them in discussions, but tread lightly. We recommend asking one question, and then walking away. Let them think about it before pushing them to answer. An good example might be: “How can I help you figure out what you’re going to do over January break? Let’s set aside an hour on Friday to talk about it.”

If you haven’t seen your child for a few months, you might be surprised by what they’ve been thinking about. Maybe they want to backpack around Europe this summer, or go work on a farm in Guatemala for a semester. Remember that they are in college to expand their worldview and these ideas didn’t come out of a vacuum. Don’t squash their cool, risky plan, but rather learn about how they come up with the idea, and see if you help them figure out how to make it realistic.

Probably most important – Find someone else for them to talk to. A relative, a family friend, a career coach. As tough as it is for parents to understand, most college-age kids are more open to productive conversations with trusted adults other than their parents. Feel free to contact us for more ideas.