So your son or daughter is off to college. Now…what about you?
You will have more time now than you have likely had in about 18-25 years. Below are what my friends who have enjoyed the challenge have done with the time.
Dating – That’s right, why should the kids have all the fun? My single friends have gone on-line. My married friends have re-discovered why they got married to that person beside them. It can be fun to find that person again. If you think date night was important when the babies arrived, it’s even more important now.
Start a new health habit. – Train for a half marathon. Walk around the block each night. And of course, my favorite, begin or continue your yoga practice.
Start a new hobby – The more time-consuming the better. What will it be? Golf? Gardening? Gourmet cooking?
Volunteer – There are so many little league teams that need coaches; food pantries that need organization; elderly neighbors who need a friend.
Reinvest in your career – Go back to school. Take a certificate course. Consider a new avocation. If you are well and in your fifties or sixties, you could have a wonderful 10-20 year “run” in a new profession. Your kids don’t have to be the only ones that “take off”.
For many of us who are in good health, we can look forward to (almost) as many good and productive years ahead of us as we have already experienced.
Some good reads on this topic:
What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life?: True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life Paperback – March 1, 2011, by Bruce Frankel (Author)
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow UpPaperback – March 16, 2006, by James Hollis (Author)
What are your plans now that your child is off to college?
A few days ago, my friend posted a picture of the most beautifully decorated dorm room I have ever seen. It looked like a catalog ad. Knowing my friend, she placed as much effort and thought into preparing her daughter emotionally for college as she did in helping her decorate her room. She has always been a devoted and thoughtful parent.
Since I’m not busy this year buying comforters and setting up bank accounts, I decided I would compile advice for parents of college students. Having made the transition twice, I consider myself a quasi expert. Below are my musings…
Whether you are looking forward to your child being out of the house, or dreading it, or a combination of the two, there’s a lot of change going on in your world. Be gentle and accepting of yourself.
If you are old enough to be the parent of college student, you are old enough to remember life without cell phones. It was cumbersome to call home when we went to college. We may have used one central phone. We may have paid a fee for every minute we spoke; we may not have had privacy. Unless your child is studying in a remote and foreign land, it will be easy for him or her to call home.
Then again – just because it is easy to call, doesn’t mean it will happen. If you want to be called often, be a friend worthy of calling. That’s right, a friend. If you are supporting your son or daughter, you can choose the level of responsiveness that you expect with that compensation, but it’s a choice and it should be considered, not assumed.
If you are feeling an incredibly strong urge to give advice, call a different friend. Call someone who’s known you as a friend for say, 20-30 years and will feel comfortable ignoring you. Don’t give this new friend/your son/daughter advice. Remember that this is a new friendship and it is fragile.
If your daughter actually solicits your advice, even then consider stifling yourself. I remember asking my mother for advice once in college and she said, “You have always made wonderful decisions and I know you will continue to make good decisions. I believe in you and I will support whatever you decide.” While I admit that I was frustrated not to have an “easy” answer from Mom, I have remembered her answer for decades; 3 plus decades in fact.
What advice have you been given that has lasted 3 or more decades?
Yesterday, I was meeting with a senior manager – we’ll call him Saresh – and he was telling me about a problem he had with one of his employees, Chris. Saresh told me that Chris hadn’t been sharing information with the team.
Saresh also told me about a number of other small problems dating back months and years…As we talked I realized that there weren’t a few problems, but a lot of issues; and they weren’t small, some were rather big and impactful.
When I asked Saresh how Chris handled it when he gave him feedback, Saresh said that he hadn’t given much feedback. Saresh felt it was always better to give positive feedback, so he never commented on the things that were going wrong. Not surprisingly, the behavior and problems continued.
We talked about how important it was for Saresh to sit down with Chris and address the issues. He agreed to do just that, but I had forgotten to tell Saresh, “Just a few at a time. Don’t overwhelm.”
So, Saresh sat with Chris and he noted a lot of the problems – some dating back as far as two years prior. This, as you can imagine, led to a complete overload of information.
What went wrong?
Think of how a body needs to be nourished. We need healthy foods day in and day out. Our bodies benefit from moderation and consistency.
Feedback is just the same. Many employees are literally starving for feedback. They want the positive feedback, we can think of it as the dessert, and they also want the feedback that will help them grow, perhaps the veggies. Employees benefit from consistent feedback in small doses, just enough to ‘digest’. This is the type of feedback that they can apply to make changes and streamline and improve practices.
An overload of feedback in one sitting is like Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house. My body becomes overloaded and sluggish.
Have you even been overloaded or starved for feedback?