Three #Back2School Conversations to Have with Your Daughter Before College

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Welcome back for the 3rd post of my #Back2School Series, “The Transitional Years.”

Everything we’ve talked about in the previous posts here and here have led us to the biggest transition year of all in a teen girl’s life: going off to college.

And if that’s your story, it’s understandable if you feel a little nervous.

You’ve spent the last 18 years or so pouring wisdom and guidance into your daughter so she’d be ready for the day she’d leave your nest.

But is she ready?

Not until you’ve had the following conversations with your daughter to help her safely and successfully navigate the college years while beginning her journey into adulthood.

Managing Freshman Freedom

One thing every high school grad leaving home to attend college dreams of?

F-R-E-E-D-O-M!

“Listening to you did make me rethink everything I had thought up until this point. I thought that once I left for college I was free to do anything I wanted to do. Let loose, party all night, and have fun with whoever I wanted to.”

It’s the first time they’re in charge of themselves.

And for an 18 or 19-year-old, this new-found freedom can be intoxicating.

Your daughter can stay out late, party, and skip class if she wants to.

And no one will call you if she does.

All that freedom seems like a good thing.

Besides, staying out late, partying or skipping class here and there probably won’t hurt anything.

But if either becomes a habit, your daughter will soon discover that freedom costs.

And it could be her grades. Her reputation. Or even her safety.

So, talk to her about managing her freedoms.

Let her know that while you want her to have fun and enjoy her college experience, not at the expense of reaching her goal, which is to earn her degree.

That means:

  • Having priorities
  • Setting boundaries
  • Learning how to say “NO!”

Show your daughter how to manage freedom as a freshman, and it will pave the way for her to enjoy it as a full-fledged adult.

Be Clear About the Culture

I don’t believe in pedaling fear to get young people’s attention about negative consequences they may face.

But, I do believe it’s our job as caring adults to equip and empower our youth to face the issues of the day.

And on college campuses, that includes the prevalent rape and hookup cultures.

Mom, I realize these are tough conversations to have with your daughter when you’d much rather focus on the positive aspects of college life.

But it’s important to be honest with her about the negative aspects too and give her practical advice.

**Inserting my disclaimer here:  The only way to fully address and ultimately change both cultures is to have these conversations with our daughters AND our sons. That’s why I love speaking in high schools where I get to talk to guys and hold them accountable for their choices. But hearing this message at school isn’t enough. Guys need to hear it at home too. And preferably by other men.**

Rape Culture

First things first: Young women should NOT be held responsible for preventing their own assaults.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share practical tips that may help keep your daughter safe. Such as:

  • Let her know that most sexual assault victims know their attackers.
  • Strongly encourage her not to drink alcohol at all. And if she does, to never accept a drink she doesn’t see poured.
  • Tell her if she’s going to attend a party, she needs to go with friends and return to her dorm with those same friends. Never leave a party by herself or let a friend.
  • Remind her to utilize campus patrol/security to escort her back to her dorm whenever she’s alone on campus at night.

Hookup Culture

Last week I shared that many high school girls tell me they have sex because they believe it’s inevitable.”

“As I’m getting ready to go to college, I think this information is even more important. Reading tweets, articles, and hearing personal accounts of many college students makes it seem like you have to have sex in college if you want to be in a relationship. Since I never had a boyfriend in high school, I was looking forward to one in college.
Thank you again for reminding me that sex isn’t necessary.”

Imagine what it’ll be like for your daughter when she steps on campus and the message she receives is that sex/hooking-up is synonymous with the college experience.

That’s why your daughter needs to receive a different message from you.

  • Let her know that her virginity and/or commitment to abstinence makes her unique and should be celebrated, not cursed.
  • Encourage her to hang out with peers who share her beliefs.
  • Remind her of the benefits of choosing to wait to have sex (i.e. less drama, free to focus on her education, avoid negative consequences).
  • Talk about the health risks and have her download and read this FREE ebook written by a doctor who worked at a college clinic.

Choose the Status Quo or Stand Out

That’s what your daughter will have to decide throughout her collegiate career.

Remember last week when I said that education is the prize in high school?

This time the stakes are higher. The prize isn’t just earning a degree.

It’s being competitive in the job market.

To achieve that, your daughter needs to STAND OUT. Here’s how:

  • Encourage her to start off strong academically so he’ll have a buffer when her classes get harder.
  • Encourage her to spend time getting to know her academic advisors and professors within her major. They’re more likely to be a reference when they know her on a personal basis.
  • Encourage her to participate in clubs within her major. Especially a student chapter of a professional organization so she can network with people in a position to hire her.
  • Encourage her to volunteer. It’s a great way to build up her skills while serving her community. And that always stands out!

Your daughter will always remember her college experience.

Having these conversations now will not only prepare her for leaving your nest.

But help her sprout her wings, soar through her college years and enter adulthood with far more fond memories than regrets.

Isn’t that the transition you want for her Mom?

If your daughter is heading off to college this year, what conversations have you been having to prepare her for this new transition?

Feel free to leave your comments in the box below.

And be sure to come back next week for my final post of this #Back2School series.

P.S. My book 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You has been a hit with college students too. Go here and here to check out what they have to say.

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