All Posts Tagged With: "parents"
If students text too much, they don’t learn independence
On any given day, sociology professor Barbara Mitchell and her 22-year-old daughter, who lives at home while attending university, will trade multiple text messages. They may be “just checking in” with each other, says Mitchell, or confirming one another’s safe arrival someplace, arranging care for the family pets or sharing humorous bits of information. “We’re very, very close. And she encourages me to text her,” says Mitchell, who teaches at Simon Fraser University. “I remember when I first got my smartphone, I was texting her a couple of times a day, and I didn’t want to come across like I’m this controlling mother who has to be in her life all the time. And she was like, ‘No, text me more!’ I was so surprised. I think it gives [kids] a sense of security.”
Mitchell’s concern is understandable; moms have long had a reputation for hovering over their children—the very word “mothering” is synonymous with “keeping tabs on.” But as Mitchell’s story shows, the parent-child paradigm is shifting, with many kids in their late teens and 20s now actively engaging in, and even initiating, frequent contact with their folks about everything from new recipes and music to relationship and academic problems. It’s a phenomenon Barbara Hofer, a psychology professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, has coined “the digital tether.” The term came to her while observing many students on their cellphones: “I was eavesdropping on these conversations and realizing that they weren’t just talking to their friends, they were talking to their parents—on the way to class, on the way to the gym, [as] they’d walk out of the dorm,” she recalls. “And texting has just added an additional layer of conversation.”
Student Aubrey Ireland won a restraining order
Despite my needle phobia and uneasiness in hospitals, my grandma always insisted on bringing me up to be a doctor. The first book she gave me was on the human anatomy and I regularly took field trips to the medical centre where my grandpa worked— regardless of my protests.
Thankfully, my mom didn’t force medicine down my throat or tell me to avoid journalism. The reason? My grandparents had hovered over her, which she didn’t much enjoy, and that meant a hands-off parenting approach for me. Hallelujah.
Aubrey Ireland, a University of Cincinnati Student, wasn’t so lucky. After her parents followed her on campus and tracked everything she did with specialized software, the 21-year-old music theatre student got a restraining order that prevents her parents from coming within 150 metres.
How one mother coped when her daughter left for school
From the Maclean’s University Rankings—on newsstands now. Story by Ellen Vanstone.
I wasn’t actually planning to attend college with my daughter Eliza when her acceptance letter arrived in the mail last spring. That would be creepy—like the mother in that Robert Munsch book who stalked her grown-up son, breaking into his house to cuddle him while he slept. I am perfectly aware that the parentally appropriate, non-crazy thing to do when your child leaves home is to let them go and have their own life.
And yet, I still felt there should be some kind of special dispensation in my case—since the school that accepted my child was the Savannah College of Art and Design, on the Savannah River, in Savannah, Ga.
Huge social differences between Gen X, Gen Y and Boomers
Generation Y Canadians (those born between 1981 and 1990) are experiencing a very different life in their twenties from what Generation X (those born between 1969 and 1978) and the Baby Boomers (born 1957 to 1966) experienced. It’s all laid out in a new study in Canadian Social Trends that used data from Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey.
The most strking change is that a slim majority of Gen Y twenty-somethings now live with their parents (51 per cent). In 1998, fewer than a third (31 per cent) of Gen X twenty-somethings were living at home. In 1986, only 28 per cent of twenty-something boomers were with mom and dad.
Considering how many are living at home, it’s not surprising that far fewer are now married or in common law relationships. For the Boomers, 48 per cent were in a serious relationship during their twenties. It was 37 per cent for Gen X and 33 per cent for Gen Y.
Ryerson advises students and parents how to cope with university
Ryerson’s department of public affairs has some advice for students and parents to help both adjust to university life.
Here are the tips for students:
1. Relax. Everyone else is going through the same thing you’re going through. So go and introduce yourself to someone new. Chances are they don’t know anyone else either.
2. Get to know your city. Get on public transit and get familiar with the different travel routes.
3. It’s OK if you don’t know how to do everything right away. That’s what your family and friends are there for. So call them up.
4. Prioritize. It may be easy to “forget” to do your readings and keep up with your work, but if you let these things slide, chances are you won’t have a reason to be living on your own for much longer.
5. Get connected. There are numerous events going on to suit everyone’s tastes. Whether it be program-specific, faculty-wide, religious, athletic, or just plain entertainment — there’s a little something for everyone. This is your chance to meet new people, and the more people you meet, and the more activities you do, the less likely you are to be homesick.
6. Have a late class? Stayed late at the library? Be safe. Check out your school’s website for security programs or head over to your student union office to find out what they can do for you.
7. Balance is the key. There is so much going on all the time that you can easily lose track of time — so allocate it efficiently. Make sure you have time for your studies, yourself, and time to go out and have fun.
8. Enjoy it all. There are going to be some really great times, some really bad times, and some in the middle, but all of these experiences are necessary for you to get accustomed to this new life. So stay positive.
And here are the tips for parents:
1. Your continued support through any changes (dress, interests, level of academic success, etc.) will be an important part of your student’s success.
2. Don’t be surprised if there is an initial drop in grades or concern about workload.
3. Send pictures and news items from your hometown paper.
4. Don’t make surprise, unannounced visits.
5. Expect the frequency of communication to lessen with time, it means they’ve made a successful transition. If there is a sudden drop-off in contact, however, calmly and tactfully inquire to see if things are OK.
6. Write even if they don’t write back.
7. Ask questions, but not too many. Express interest without seeming like you’re interfering. Remember, this is a transition into independence. Students may take excessive parental interest to mean that you don’t trust them as they are gaining a sense of autonomy.
8. Anticipate more bad news than good news, at least at first.
9. Students are under a lot of pressure and stress, with a fair measure of insecurity. So when those first phone calls come, do not respond by saying, “But these are the best years of your life.”
10. Assess how street-smart your son or daughter is. Discuss safety issues with them and encourage them to find out about campus safety and security, travelling around campus at night and emergency procedures.
Buying a ‘university home’ is a worthwhile investment
Like many parents of university students, Kim Leone desperately wanted to rescue her child from less-than-ideal living conditions during her final years of university. So instead of paying another $6,000 in rent for the school year, she and her husband decided to purchase a second home that could serve as daughter Sarah’s home away from home.
The initial goal was to provide a safe environment that would offset rental payments and perhaps even pay for itself. But with Sarah set to return home next spring, Kim is now hoping to sell the six-bedroom condo townhouse a few kilometres from Ottawa’s Carleton University for a tidy profit. “In the beginning we weren’t looking when we purchased it of making a profit,” she said in an interview from Hamilton, Ont. “But now, in keeping our eye on the real estate market, there I know we’re going to make a profit.”
Purchased two years ago for about $210,000, the unit in the Hogs Back district is being listed for $270,000. The Leone family put five per cent down and spent $15,000 to create two basement bedrooms. With five student renters each paying between $425 and $500 per month, the townhouse fully covered its costs and gave Sarah a less stressful environment to complete her studies and gain her independence. “It’s the best thing you can do for your child,” Kim said.
It’s a feeling echoed by 22-year-old Sarah, who said she’s thankful for the experience of being a landlord, which included collecting rent and finding replacement tenants. She urges parents to consider purchasing after their child experiences the first year living in a university dorm and advises them to do their homework to ensure rental income can cover costs.
A growing number of parents have turned to ownership over the past 20 years as an alternative to student residences or frat-style rentals, industry experts say. Patrick Walchuk of Keller Williams Ottawa Realty, who helped the Leones purchase the townhouse, said he’s seen interest grow as people have looked to real estate as an investment alternative during the stock market weakness. “People want to put money as an investment into real estate and they figure they can kill two birds with one stone and also provide shelter or accommodation for the kid that is going to university.”
With Ottawa’s real estate prices growing about six per cent annually, the nation’s capital presents an opportunity to make profits, he said. University towns, such as those in southwestern Ontario, are also good locations because prices are relatively low and with good resale markets. He urges buyers to be realistic about expectations. Most buyers end up in condo-style arrangements that include maintenance instead of relying on their child.
High cost cities such as Toronto, however, can be more challenging because it’s harder to get high enough rents to cover the costs of ownership, says David Larock, an independent mortgage planner.
He suggests that rental income should be at least 10 to 20 per cent more than the total expenses for the mortgage, property taxes, maintenance and food costs. “Any time the cost of carrying the property as an investor exceeds the rental income that can be earned, the investors are essentially subsidizing the renters so at that point it’s a better deal to rent than to buy,” he said.
Not exclusively the purview of the rich, buying a university home can also make financial sense for middle-class families, especially those with a few kids heading to the same academic institution. “It’s sort of like hand-me downs. You get a hand-me-down house as opposed to hand-me-down pants,” added Larock.
Like all real estate investments, longer time horizons put the owner in a better position to realize a financial gain and offset some of the costs like realty fees and taxes. Larock cautions that buying may not be the right option for everybody, including those parents with children heading to American universities.
Plummeted U.S. housing prices may seem like a great opportunity. But Larock said a high “shadow inventory” of homes may suppress prices and make it harder to sell down the line. “Personally, I would not be buying property in Florida right now, even though prices have come right down.”
Parents should avoid buying a second home if there’s a risk they won’t be able to pay the mortgage and may be forced to sell it with little notice, he added. With classes set to start in about six weeks, time is running out but it’s not too later to buy a home for this year. The choice of tenants may be limited but many students continue to scramble to find accommodations through to October.
The Canadian Press
From meetings to spelling bees, there’s more to academia than teaching and research.
Everyone knows that university professors teach, and many people are aware, if only vaguely, that they conduct research. But I suspect that not everyone realizes that there is an important third aspect of university professorships. You see, like others who are guilty of minor offenses, professors are required to do community service.
Service to the community can take many forms, including sitting on any of the seemingly infinite committees that exist on campus. One might also do service to the scholarly community in general, serving as an officer of a scholarly association, for instance. Finally, there is the service to the larger community outside of academia. In some disciplines, this external service is an obvious extension of one’s discipline. A nursing professor might find plenty of ways to contribute in the area of public health; a political scientist might frequently be called upon by the media to comment on the news of the day. I know a biologist who gets up early on Saturday mornings to be the bird expert on a radio show.
If your area is English, however, the opportunities for external service are not quite so obvious, though they can be intriguing. Occasionally, I have been called on by the media to comment on the issue of plagiarism when cheating scandals (the less salacious kind) break. Once, I was interviewed by a reporter who was doing a story on whether or not people pronounce the “r” in February. For a while I reviewed poetry and fiction for a local literary journal; I swear it wasn’t my fault the thing went under.
One of my favourite bits of external service is my work with the Canspell National Spelling Bee. This event sees kids from across the country competing in regional bees, hoping to win a chance to get to the national stage. And these are serious spellers, by the way. The winning word at nationals last year was heresimach. My spell checker can’t even spell that.
I serve as a pronouncer at several regional bees and as a judge at nationals. I enjoy it because it gives me hope for the future: the spellers work hard and are almost always good sports. As you might imagine, the parents are not always so pleasant. One year a parent came to the judges’ table claiming that someone else’s child had spelled a word wrong and should be eliminated (you can appeal your own child’s elimination, by the way, but you cannot petition to have someone else ousted). Never mind that three different judges disagreed; she was a professor of medicine, she explained, as though that had any relevance. But even when parents get a little crazy, it is usually out of love for their kids. At one bee, a boy stopped half way through his word, and after a long pause asked if he could continue from where he had stopped. Of course, I said. He continued and spelled the word incorrectly. His mother objected on the grounds that we had not let him start over (which is allowed), and only after the bee did she figure out (because her son cheerfully told her) that he hadn’t asked to start over and that the only problem was that he spelled the word wrong. But in her desire to see her son do well, she misunderstood what was happening right in front of her. This is motherhood, I guess.
So if The Hour Hand — another of my favourite service contributions– seems a bit sparse for the next couple of weeks, please forgive me. I’m busy these days. Busy as — well, you know.
Not every student will be a doctor or a lawyer. But you know what? That’s okay.
I meet a lot of you each day, at university fairs, at QUIP visits, and in hallways. Every time we talk, there’s a mixture of emotions that runs over your faces. First, you evaluate me to see if I’m the kind of person you’d want your son or daughter to associate with. In assessing me, you assess the university I represent, and, if I make the cut – fingers crossed – you start asking questions. You usually want to know about our programs, our class sizes, how long it will take your student to get home, what our reputation is like…the list goes on.
But, behind all of that, these are the questions I think you really want answered. I’m not a parent, and this obviously isn’t a comprehensive list. But I think if we were honest with each other, these are the two of the questions you’d ask, and the responses I’d try to give you:
- Will my son or daughter get a job?
No matter which university your son or daughter chooses, there’s a good chance they will get a job. This country needs educated people to fill jobs that the knowledge economy will continue to create. I promise, no matter which university your child chooses, they will find gainful employment.
But can I ask you one big favour?
Don’t make them decide what that job will be just yet. The four years they spend in university will have immeasurable impact on their personality, their passions, and their priorities. They will love and lose, experience success and failure, and return home each holiday season full of new lessons and experiences. It is through those experiences that your child will decide the kind of person they want to become, and how they will make their impact on this world.
I hate to break it to you, but not every student will be a doctor or a lawyer. But you know what? That’s okay. We need nurses and engineers. We need social workers and community leaders. Most importantly, we need people with open minds, who can face the challenges of the future. Please, give your child the chance to do that.
- Will my child be “okay”?
Well, that question is relative. Will your student face challenges in university? Absolutely. Those challenges will come inside and outside the classroom. They will come when you least expect it, and require split-second judgment. You know your child, and you know what they’re made of. You’ve instilled values in them since birth, and you should trust your instincts when they head off for the first time. Will they make mistakes? I sure did. But I learned from them, and so will they.
We’ll take care of your child, and make sure that the services they need are readily available. But we look forward to the day when they no longer need our help. That’s how we’ll know that we’ve done a good job, building on the foundation you’ve left us
I’m not here to sell you something. It would be foolish for me to believe that my five-minute speech seals the deal on a $40,000 decision. Consider me a resource, and use me as such. I’ll answer anything you want to know in an honest way. I want to help your student make the right choice. If that means that they attend the university I represent…great! If not, that’s okay too. But be sure to ask the questions you want answers to. Nothing is silly, or redundant. I’m here to help you with this process, so please…ask the questions you really want answers to, and let me help.
We ended up where our parents started, but we can’t forget where we came from.
Even if I wanted to, I could never be “from” Ottawa. I’ve tried telling people before, new acquaintances who wouldn’t be able to call my bluff. But I always feel too guilty. It’s simply not the truth – I’m from Calgary, and there’s nothing I can do to forget it.
I’m reminded of this because Thanksgiving weekend is arguably the time of year when my “school” life and my “home” life mingle most aggressively. It’s only a few days break, after all, so it’s a slap-and-dash alternate universe switcheroo – different family members, different friends, different city.
While I’ve been home for the break in the past, this year however we all acknowledged that it’s a little too far to go. So I’ll have my first University Thanksgiving – and all the messy attempts at stuffing and cranberry sauce that implies. But since I can’t have my family here, I’ll be graced with visits from close childhood friends now living in Toronto and Montreal, and we’ll remind each other exactly where we came from.
They’re in much the same situation as me. As opposed to Ontario, where students seem to move only hours from home, the post-graduation exodus to schools “back East” is pretty standard in Calgary. At least one parent is often from Ontario or Quebec, and sending us out here for school is, in a way, like sending us back home. We may be far from them, but we usually fall right into the warm laps of grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Add to that the limited number of universities in the West, especially if you’re not so keen on the engineering deal, and a huge chunk of my friends ended up where their parents started. Some even took it further – not only did they return to their parent’s home province, they returned to their alma mater, their old neighbourhood, and – in one case – their old apartment building.
Montreal is an especially strong example. It often seems that half the kids from home moved to Montreal. They go to school together, live together, hang out together. If a band from Calgary tours there, guess who makes up the crowd? I could go to whole parties in Montreal, probably without meeting a single person who isn’t from Calgary. There’s even a neighbourhood nicknamed “Little Calgary,” according to my friend Guillaume, that resembles some sort of ex-pat community.
Of the kids I grew up with, if our parents are from Canada at all (and a good chunk aren’t), they usually came to Calgary in the eighties to get work. A lot of these parents, for obvious reasons, are engineers. (There are a disproportionate numbers of engineers in Calgary, which I think says an awful lot about the city itself. And because engineers are convinced that it is the best profession in existence, every math-deficient kid in the city has some joke about how their parents put them in science camps at age five and keep asking when they’re going to give up those philosophy classes and start taking calculus.)
My Mum is an English Montrealer, and my Dad grew up in Windsor, but was born near Edinburgh. So I, like many of my friends, am a first generation Calgarian. The things we associate with being “truly” Calgarian – Vietnamese subs, for example, or going to illegal parties in Riley Park – weren’t even around when they moved to the city, and certainly not back in the days of the original oil barons. My parents made the city their own (they even wear cowboy boots now), but it defined me from the beginning.
So my childhood friends Guillaume, who goes to Concordia, and Scott, who goes to McGill, are coming to stay with me this weekend, along with Rebecca, who’s at York. And regardless of historical connections to our school-year cities, all attempts to pass for “Montrealers”, “Ottawans” and “Torontonians” will immediately go out the window. Who are we fooling, after all? We may be following our parents back where they came from, but in the end, we’re Calgarians through and through.
Thanks to new Alberta legislation, parents can now veto any of the “sensitive” stuff
It doesn’t feel like it’s been two weeks. It feels like its been 10 years
It’s been almost two weeks since Christmas vacation ended. Two weeks since I last played Halo 3. Two weeks since I watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (also known as Indiana Jones and the Plot that Initially Held Promise But Stopped Making Sense When Aliens were Introduced). But it doesn’t feel like it’s been two weeks. It feels like its been 10 years.
Last September, when my parents told me that my first semester of university would be “over in the blink of an eye,” I figured it was one of those things that parents collectively agree to tell their children just to annoy them. Sort of like, “You’ll thank me when your older.”
Then I blinked, and I was sitting in the middle of my chemistry lab exam, unable to remember what the heck a triprotic acid is.
But for whatever reason, second semester is going in slow motion. It’s the same kind of feeling I get when my family is crammed into our mini-van for a long road trip, and the only thing I can do for five hours is play the Dilemma Game with my brothers. Would you rather be stuck in a pit of spiders, or a pit of earwigs? Would you cut off all your toes or all your fingers? Your eyelids or your tongue? Would you rather poke a sharp stick into your ear or your eye? What would be worse: eating someone else’s baby toe nail, or being trapped in a sleeping bag with one of my younger brother’s nacho farts?
I wonder what would be worse: being stuck in my physics class for the rest of eternity, or having to listen to an endless stream of hypothetical questions?