Sarah and I appreciate all the feedback we’ve gotten from podcast listeners over the last two years. Numerous listeners have pointed out that while we’ve covered breastfeeding and finding childcare, our content for listeners with older children has been a bit thin. Partly that’s because our families are on the younger side, though this is increasingly less the case. As more of my kids transition into the tween/teen years I’m definitely interested in learning more about this topic as well.
So we were thrilled to welcome Lisa Heffernan to the program today. Lisa, a mom of three grown children, is the co-founder with Mary Dell Harrington of the Grown and Flown community. This online community (with a very active Facebook presence) provides a place for parents of teens, college students, and young adults to share strategies and support. Lisa and Mary Dell are the co-authors of the new book — out today! — called Grown and Flown, which collects much of this advice in one place.
This was a fascinating conversation. I value independence a lot. I occasionally bump into the reality that these expectations have changed. For instance, I did a FB Live chat with the Grown and Flown community this summer. Lisa wanted me to talk about time management, and my first assumption was that we’d do a talk on reclaiming personal time after kids go off to college or something like that. But Lisa informed me that people would be far more interested in a session on how to help adolescents learn time management. (So that’s what I did).
Lisa asserts that adolescence is different enough today to make a lot of parents’ experiences through their own adolescences not-terribly relevant. She notes that the model many of us grew up with — at age 18 you move far away from family and reduce communication to one phone call a week — is something of a historical aberration. In any case, today’s teens tend to want and expect a much closer relationship with their families. And given that they engage in far less risky behavior than adolescents did in the past, there may be something to be said for this, even if I find the stories of parents helping with job applications laughable.
We talked about some of the useful advice from the book, such as a list of ways to connect with a teen who is no longer speaking with you. There’s another great list on what to say (and do) with a teen whose heart is breaking — whether for romantic reasons, or because of losing a friend, getting cut from a team, not getting into a first (or second…) choice college, etc.
We also addressed that big elephant in the room: college admissions. Anyone following the news for the past few months (or really, the past decade…) knows that this has become increasingly crazy. If celebrities are paying thousands of dollars to bribe coaches to pass their kids off as recruited athletes, clearly the rest of us should be thinking about this from kindergarten on, right?
In a word…no. Lisa says that saving for college can start early, if this is something your family can take on, financially, around other priorities (like retirement). But for an adolescent, up until junior year, the only thing they should be doing is performing as well as they can at school and participating deeply in the handful of activities they find most meaningful. These are good things in their own right, and they are also what the vast majority of college admissions offices care most about anyway. A key reason to delay any official admissions prep until junior year is that once it becomes a family issue, it will never stop. (And in case you’re wondering, Lisa sent her children to good colleges!)
In the opener, Sarah and I reminisce about our own college applications (and an ego-deflating comment my 9-year-old recently made to me…whoa!). In the Q&A we address a question from a listener concerned about daycare costs.
I really enjoyed this episode — Lisa is a total pro at interviews — so please give it a listen, and let us know what you think!