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4Moms: Let go of your teens by letting them set up own dorm rooms

June 12, 2013|By Mary MacVean
  • Will you miss those shoes at the door when your child goes to college?
Will you miss those shoes at the door when your child goes to college? (Mary MacVean )

Here is a piece of concrete advice for parents who will be bringing their sons or daughters to college this fall: Let them set up their own dorm rooms.

That came from college junior Sam Landsberg, who talked Wednesday in a Spreecast chat with Times reporter Mary MacVean (also his mother) and John Harshbarger, the head of counseling at Oberlin College in Ohio. The weekly 4Moms talk this week was about letting go.

Letting them put their own things away might seem a small gesture, Harshbarger agreed, but it sends the message they can set up their own lives at school too.

Harshbarger said it's important for parents to give their children a chance to fail, to learn from those failures and move on. Parents generally have good intentions, he said, but they need to consider the right amount of contact during college.

There are many parents and students who call each other every day, sometimes more than once a day. Landsberg said he thought once a week was about right.

Harshbarger, who has 20 years in college counseling, said he hears from parents more these days than in the past, and sometimes they say, "I'm so anxious I'm not sleeping at night" because of a problem their child is having. But the student, often, has moved on. It's possible that less contact will lead to less anxiety -- and the chance for the students to solve problems on their own.


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