How should I deal with my parents stressing me out?
The best way to get your parents to stop nagging you is to take charge of the college planning process yourself. If you are organized, have a realistic timeline and plan, and you let parents know you have things under control, chances are good they will stay off your back. Of course, you might have to “prove” to them you have taken charge, so be prepared with a spreadsheet, an organization system, and a “to do” list. Show them a few times how you’re making progress, and be willing to give them an update once a week or so. Not only will you get less stress from your parents, you will feel less overwhelmed yourself, and hopefully make an even better decision!
The best defense against interfering parents is credibility. What I mean by that is, don’t just plead with your parents to leave you alone and give you space. Independence is earned by showing your parents that you can handle yourself, your grades, your job, without so much micromanaging.
I once heard a parent of a high school student say, “As long as he gets A’s, he knows we will leave him alone.” That’s what I’m talking about. If you want your parents to get off your back, bring home a 4.0. They will feel kind of silly bothering you if you have perfect grades.
Manage your college process yourself. Research the college websites. Register for your standardized tests. Fill out the Common App when it launches in August. You can do all these things—it’s not that hard. The more you rise to the occasion, the less your parents will bother you, guaranteed.
Not knowing your family personally, there are way too many variables to give you expert advice.
The college process may be the first time in their parenting where they are helpless as to the outcomes. All parents want one thing- that their children be happy! In the past, if you wanted a toy or had a problem at school- they could pretty easily deal with most situations – ensuring a good outcome for you. At this moment- they have very little control over the results , especially if you have set your heart on one particular college. Even gifting a school money cannot ensure an acceptance for you, so your parents may be feeling pretty anxious right now. I have had Type A moms who had to deal with sons, who had ADD- this was a “challenging ” situation for both mothers and sons!
Can you honestly communicate with your parents that they are increasing your stress? And can you reassure them that you are indeed on top of all your applications/essays and that there is no reason for them to feel so stressed themselves? If they get that message, that you are indeed capable and competent, then they may be better able to relax and allow you to deal with your applications on your own.
Do what you need to do in a timely manner. Your parents are stressing you out because you are stressing them out. If you do your school work and applications early (no procrastination) then they will have more confidence in you and back off. If you are doing this already, sit them down and talk with them. Ask them “Why they are so stresed out?” then work on a solution together. Always remember, your parents want the best for you and are trying to help you, they just sometimes have a frustrating way of showing it.
Parents have their own dreams for you. They have worked hard to parent you and get you to this point in your life. But this is where your separate path begins. They will be a part of your life from here on, but not in the same way. The dynamics change as you move more fully into adulthood. So be adult about this. Don’t yell at them or give them the silent treatment. Don’t try to avoid them or punish them by acting out. This is your chance to display the maturity it will take to get through your adult life.
Sit down with your parents and ask them to list all the things that are stressing them out about the application process. Write them down. Then you list all the things that are stressing you out. Now ask your parents what they want for you. What is it that they are so worried about? Let them know what your goals are for yourself. Then, on paper, compare the lists and see how much you have in common with your parents and where you differ. Those are all talking points for airing all the concerns that are stressing everyone out. If there is a very large discrepancy between their goals and yours, you need to explore why. If they have different hopes and dreams for you, this is the time to let them know why those hopes and dreams differ from your own. You need to present your case without drama. Show them you have thoroughly investigated your options and how you will go about getting what you want out of life. In the end, I think most parents just want their children to be happy and successful. It is your job to show your parents that you are mature enough to make those life changing choices.
Gently: first of all praise them for having given you a lot of good values that have been invaluable now that you are an adult and in college, lift them higher by also letting them know that you appreciate having them as parents and that you always think about what they would do or want you to do when you are faced with a tough decision and it helps you to make the right choices. Then transition smoothly to an example of you making a wise choice based on their upbringing and inform them in a non-defensive manner that you wished they could trust that the great job they did raising you has not been lost and that now you would like to have space to implement it independently during your college years so that when you graduate you will be able to be the productive and responsible citizent that they have always wanted you to be. Let them know that you are glad they are there for you and that you wish they would let you call and ask for help now that you have adjusted and that you will keep them informed but that you just wish they would trust you to implement what they have given over the past 18+ years. And follow up with a heart felt hug and I love you so that they understand that you are coming from a place of love not a place of anger.
Parents can be very stressful when looking at sending you off to college. First off, they’re sending their baby away! Both sad and exciting for all parties involved!
First ask yourself, who is this whole process is really about? It is important for them to push you and it is also important for them to realize that this is YOUR future that everyone is dealing with here and your opinion needs to be heard.
Also remember that they have been alongside you on this ride of life and they are probably just as nervous as you are about your future journey to college. By you supporting them, they can then support you back and hopefully everyone can then work as a team and relax a bit.
Have some fun! There is so much to get done when applying to schools and finishing up your senior year, its important for you to not forget to set aside some time for self care. I know that after a stressful day of work, I always feel relieved after I get at least an hour mountain bike ride in. So during this time busy time be sure to have some fun; you will feel rejuvenated and in turn, produce better work!
They’re your parents. It’s their job to stress out. Especially about money. If you want to lessen the pressure their stress creates, create a college search action plan and take control of your own college search process – then all they have to worry about is the money.
There is usually an underlying reason that drives parents to be over-involved, and that reason is usually low grades in general, or decent grades and a determination to get you into an elite college. But mostly, they wonder how they are going to pay for it.
My advice to you is to begin taking responsibility. That’s what colleges are looking for: Students who can enter the hallowed halls, hit the ground running, and handle their own issues. If you can’t or simply don’t feel you are ready, then it’s time to consider a gap year – do something fabulous and meaningful, then go to college. It will always be there.
The fact is, your parents want you out of the house and thriving on your own. But it’s your life, not your parents. Be purposeful. This is your opportunity to grab your dreams and run with them. If they can’t or don’t want to pay for you to do what you want to do, then figure out a way to pay for it yourself.
Don’t have them make the action plan and then beg you to participate in what is your OWN process. Make your own action plan with appropriate timelines and stick to it, then invite them into the process when the time is right. If you approach everything in your life in this manner, you will have a greater chance at getting where YOU want to be, not where someone else thinks you should be. (BTW, this works even if you don’t know where you want to be, because in doing this on your own, you find out a lot about your wants and needs.)
The bottom line: If you want your parents to be less stressed or less involved, then step up and start taking action yourself. If you don’t do that, then you must expect that they will continue to stress out.
Most parents are very concerned about their son or daughter’s future and they often go overboard, but hopefully it is from a place of love. If your parents are causing you to feel more stressed, rather than less, you need to talk with them. Explain how you feel, and why what they are doing is causing you stress. Let them know how, when and what you are doing to select, apply, and pay for college. Give them a chance to talk, and listen to them. Hopefully having a better understanding of each other will help. One helpful tip is to set aside specific time for “college talk” so that it is not the focus every time you are together. Beyond that, it can be helpful to have a third party mediate sometimes.
Most parents just want their kids to be happy and the last thing they want to do is cause you more stress. So, just let them know how you are feeling when the stress starts to build up. Stress is often caused by not accomplishing the college tasks, so try sitting down with your parents and making a calendar of deadlines for accomplishing your college work. Ask them to help you by investigating financial aid options at each of your schools. Then make a deal with them – if you stay on track with your college essays and applications, then they can’t bother you about it. Tell your parents that you want to enjoy your limited time at home, without constantly discussing college. Add that as long as you are staying on track, you would like to set aside one or two days a week to discuss college issues and the rest of days of the week should be “college free” days, used to discuss other more important things. If you keep your part of the bargain, they should be able to keep theirs.
In most cases, your parents’ interest in your college planning are because they love you so much and want things to work out well for you. Nevertheless, parental over-involvement can be a cause of stress for both you and them.
If it is financially possible, you might ask your parents to arrange to have you work with an independent college advisor – someone whom your parents will trust and who will be able to help you through the college search and application process without being part of all the family stress issues.
If this is not possible, another option would be to sit down with your parents – when no one is upset about anything, explain to them what you’re doing with regard to your pre-college plans, what options you’re considering, how you have your time organized, how you’re taking care of all of the necessary requirements (both high school and college-related), and anything else that would be of concern to them. Very important: Have a plan! Anticipate your parents’ questions and concerns and be ready to address them. The last thing you want to do in this scenario is have them ask an important question to which your answer is, “I dunno.”
If your parents are stressing you out, and you actually don’t HAVE a plan, think about making one – right away!
This is a good question and not one easily answered, for much of the stress comes from the best of intentions and nothing more than a desire to see one’s children happy. At the same time overly involved parents are usually those who have forgotten a fundamental aspect of the process–that it is about their children and not them. Admittedly, that can be advice more easily offered than followed, and for a child to say it to their parents can be awkward and does little for family relations. But at the same time, it is a message that needs to be conveyed. The best messengers are usually another adult—perhaps a family friend who has been through it with their kids–or the school counselor.
Count to 10 – then back again. Think about how stressful this is for them, as well, and try to be sympathetic.
Keep them informed of your progress. Show them your plan, your schedule or timeline, your essay, cc them on emails to the college or college advisor or high school counselor. When parents see that their child has a handle on things, they will stop bugging you.
First, reassure them that you understand the importance of college. If you have reservations about going to college in general or a particular college share these thoughts. The more specific you can be the better. For example, I know you loved college X but I don’t feel it is the right place for me because …… It may be easier to email your parents rather than a face to face discussion as that way you are sure to express yourself as you wish. Ask if they can articulate their specific concerns. Perhaps ask about how the cost of college will impact the family budget. Give your parents an overview of where you are in the process (applications complete, SATs sent etc.). They may also be stressed at the thought of you leaving home. Parents naturally want what they perceive to be best for their child which may not be what you perceive as best for you. Hear them out and their reasons and respond respectfully which is not the same as agreeing with them.
If you really feel that your parents are stressing you out, the best thing to do is to be honest and let them know that. Try to give specific examples of the behavior that is a stressor and difficult for you. But don’t just complain about a problem, give a suggestion of how to resolve the problem. What do you want to be different moving forward? It’s also best to have this conversation sooner rather than later. If you wait until the stress becomes unbearable, you’re likely to explode and say things that you don’t mean and will never be able to take back.
You want to continue to have a good relationship with your parent, not only during this period but while you’re in university and later in life. It’s also important to remember that you’ll need their financial and emotional support. So be nice and remember that they love you and only want the best for you!
Parents are use to schedules and follow ups so if you may present your plan with a check list somewhere in the house for your parents to see anytime, you will save time and a lot less stress. Parents are there for you and willing to help you anytime. if you are planning to apply for financial aid, you also need to ask your parents to get their tax return finished as soon as possible. they are suppose to star the financial aid process the same time as your applications.
Dealing with overbearing parents
Unfortunately, part of this position requires counselors to deal with parents. Much of the time they are grateful and kind, but at the same time some others simply cannot let go of the process. Every parent will admit that the college admissions process does not resemble the same college application procedure they experienced. The feeling of having no control tends to influence their actions and sometimes it seems like they cannot control themselves. So often counselors must take on a dual role as they mediate between the student and the parents. Many times parents worked diligently to afford the lives they have offered their children works against them rather than in their favor. In fact, many want for their children what they wanted for themselves, but this often leads to adolescent rebellion. The best way to handle the situation is mediate, always reminding the student that as a counselor, you are on their side. Otherwise, you lose their trust.
Parents of children applying to college these days are called “helicopter” parents, and many admissions officers, counselors, and teachers find that their jobs are made infinitely more difficult because of parental interference. But what do you do if one or both of your parents are of the Blackhawk variety? You can’t escape them, and they seem to have their hands in everything from your homework, backpack, phone, web history, and of course your college applications. Here’s our two-step process for dealing with hovering parents: 1. Be Understanding: college application time is stressful for everybody in the family. For students — the pressure is obvious since it is their future on the line. For parents — this time of their lives is an enormous period of transition as well. They have dedicated so much of the past 2 decades raising children — and now it’s time to say goodbye. And even though they shouldn’t feel that their child’s college choice is a reflection on their parenting achievements — many parents do. They feel like they haven’t done their “job” well if their child doesn’t go to the best school possible. So — try to be understanding that parents are under enormous stress at this point in their lives. Try to see the good intentions behind the annoying nagging. (You can’t change them — but you can change the way you see them!) 2. Be Responsible. Another great way to deal with parents is to show that YOU are on top of the process. Show them that you are aware of deadlines and are planning accordingly. Show them that you are working on your essays and speaking with teachers about recommendations. Show them that you can handle the process and let them know that you will come to them with any questions. The more you take control of the process and show them that you are capable, the less anxiety and the more PRIDE your parents will experience!
Even for quiet, responsible students, the college application process may induce considerable stress. The last thing a student needs is to have to manage the parent in addition to mounds of schoolwork, lists of target schools, college visits and applications. If your parent is overly involved in the college process, you should remind your him or her that you are trying to plan your future – not that of your parent! I always remind my students how hard it is for a parent to get through this process, but at the same time I insist that the student set reasonable objectives and time frames. A parent will be more likely to back off if you show that your are mature and capable of earning his or her respect by staying on top of the process in an organized and timely manner. For very emotional parents who tend to be too involved, find a role for your parent, such as proofreader of your application.
School rankings and programs are constantly changing, and a college that was considered the best in the nation for a certain field 20 years ago might have a lot more (or less) to offer now. Parents sometimes don’t realize that it’s more than twice as hard to get into Harvard now as it was when they were applying, simply because there are a lot more qualified high school seniors these days getting degrees. What your parents might once have considered “backup schools” are now as selective as the Ivies. However, this means there are also several schools out there with English professors as good as Harvard’s. Sit them down by the computer and make a case for your top choice.
If your parents are popping their head into your room more and more around decision time, assign them simple but tedious tasks that will keep them busy. They’re itching to feel involved, so why not ease your stress by putting some of the scheduling on their shoulders? While your parents should never write your admission essays (feel free to let them proofread) or contact admissions offices for you, they can serve as your research and planning interns. They can make a calendar with application deadlines, request financial aid information from each school, and find out the dates of college tours. Make them do research on how much travel, food and entertainment will cost each month. It might feel weird discussing how much spending money you’ll need, but at least they’ll stop assuming that you can get by on that $100 a month (kudos to you if you can, though). Whatever you do, make sure to discourage them from calling and harassing admissions offices and your guidance counselors. This can seriously hurt your chances of acceptance. Your college counselor might have hundreds of students to take care of, but they often forge close bonds with college administrations and can put in a good word for you. Pissing them off won’t do any good. If your parents insist on consulting with an admissions officer to get general information about the college, remember to explain to them that it’s only useful until December, when they get swamped with applications—the ideal time to contact an admissions officer is September – November.
If your parents are really extreme and try to threaten you by playing the “I’m going to cut you off and not do your laundry anymore” card, you can be really obnoxious and quote Andrew Allen, author of College Admissions Trade Secrets and renowned private college counselor: “Your parents should help you weigh the pros and cons of each college, but they should not actually choose a college for you.” Let’s face it, if you go to a college because your parents bribed you with a new car, you’ll probably be parking it somewhere else just a year later. While tricking your parents might seem like a great idea now, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble first by doing thorough research, then following your heart.
Don’t completely write off what your parents say, no matter how annoying they seem. It’s true, sometimes it’s in your best interest to look further than first impressions. That uptight college that gives you the creeps might very well have a smaller department that you’re going to love and get lots of personal attention. For example, someone who majors in journalism at a predominantly business school gets great choices when it comes to internships and jobs from the department secretary and the career center.
If your parents are stressing you out, you need to talk to them about it. Yes, I said talk to them. Tell them how you are feeling (nicely, don’t accuse) and ask them if they realize they are being overbearing? Talk about how everyone can compromise, maybe they will back off if you keep them updated fairly regularly. There is usually a middle road to be found. I believe that it is the student who must be responsible for the college application process. (Of course the parents must be involved in some aspects, don’t go overboard!). Many parents are loath to take a backseat…they believe they know best, and hey, maybe in some areas they do. BUT when it comes to the college choice and application process, a student begins to understand about responsibility by driving the process without mom and dad being too involved. Compromise.
A lot of times, when a parent is very gung ho, and in your face about this process it has some deeper psychological meanings. It is only natural for parents to want the best for their children, and the more opportunities that come your way, the more some parents tend to be around. This can be for a variety of reasons, but it is usually because your parents love you, and can sometimes get carried away living vicariously through your success.
First, it is important that you try and understand your parents and why they are stressing you out. It usually has nothing to do with you personally. It is their anxious desire to make sure you don’t miss the opportunities ahead of you.
Nonetheless, getting into a bickering war with your parents will leave you with frustration and hurt feelings. You should attempt to set solid boundaries with your parents. Your counselor can be a good mediator in this process. However, boundaries are always important in relationships, even with those closest to you.
An example of a boundary might be for you to only have your parents review your application if you ask them to. In this instance, if they insist on it, then it they are not respecting your boundaries.
Also keep in mind that this process is only temporary, and you can only control where you apply, not what they say.
Show your parents that you have the college application process under control. Be organized. Make your deadlines. If your parents can see that you can handle the many aspects of the college application process, they may give you more space and relax a little. This will cause you less anxiety. Try not to shut them out of the process. Open up the lines of communication. Try to show your parents that you respect their opinions. If your parents know that you are willing to speak with them and if they know what stage you are at in the applications and what you are thinking, you will find that the atmosphere at home will become much more relaxed.
Keep in mind they have your best interests at heart
So often parents mean well, but just don’t know how to direct their intentions. If you can demonstrate that you are organized, sticking to a timeline, and are enjoying the process; they should relax. Don’t hesitate to throw them some crumbs every once in a while, though. Maybe they could start filling out the FAFSA, let them play cruise director when you hit the road for visits, share websites you come across (Unigo.com!) so they realize you know what you’re doing. Bottom line, you know they just want what is best for you. This is a stressful time for them too as they anticipate you leaving the nest. If everyone can maintain a sense of humor, your family will be the better for it.
First, just remember you’re not alone. The college search is stressful for everyone, and their parents. You’re probably already venting your frustration to friends. Just keep doing it!
Next, think about how your parents are feeling. They really do have your best interests at heart, and they want very badly for you to be a happy and successful adult. They’re also stressing about how to pay for school, not to mention the fact that their child is leaving the nest. It doesn’t excuse them being overbearing, but hopefully you can be a little more understanding when they’re making you crazy.
Then, take your college search into your own hands as much as possible. The more you show your parents that you’re taking test prep seriously, putting real thought into where to apply and meeting deadlines without a lot of nagging, the more confidence your parents will have in your ability to manage everything on your own. Your parents aren’t going to be taking your classes for you, so don’t let them take the wheel with college admissions.
Finally, don’t be afraid to tell your parents they’re making you nuts! They know you’re already stressed, and they may not be aware that their attempts to be helpful are only feeding the fire of your anxiety. Many will back off a bit when they realize how your mental health is suffering. Good luck!
At this point in the application process, parents are eager and excited to discuss their child’s progress and thoughts, while students often want to pull back as they are getting anxious about deadlines and essay work. If your parents are stressing you out by asking too many questions, you might want to make an arrangement with them, where you set aside a specific time each week when you will answer their questions. Outside of that time, you would ask them to refrain from asking about college.
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