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Dear Adina

It's Hard Not to Over-Focus on My Youngest

Adina Glickman


Dear Adina,

My youngest son is the only one left living at home and it's hard not to over-focus on him. Any tips on how not to do this?


Dear Parent,

Well, he’s not the ONLY one left living at home, but he is the only youngster and you are wise to ask this question. The bright light of parenting that shines on the solo child (whether the youngest remaining or an only child since the beginning ) is both a blessing and a curse for the child.

The blessing is that they have you all to themselves, and depending on their age at the time, that can be a delight for them. If they’re older, all of that attention may not be welcome. Being the sole recipient of all parental attention can be intense. Some children miss the buffer of their siblings. Others are glad the competition is out of the picture.

So first and foremost, try and get a read on how your child is feeling about their solo status. It can be useful to run a few things up the flagpole. You might say, “I miss having your siblings around. How’s it been for you?” or “What do you miss most about your siblings being home? What’s the best thing about their NOT being home?”

But be cool about it. Maybe ask the question while you’re driving and not looking right at them. Or fold it into something you’re doing together so it doesn’t feel like they’re suddenly in the interrogation room.

The best way make sure you’re not over-focusing is to remember three things:

1. Be a role model.

Being a parent isn’t just about parenting. You are modeling what grown-ups look like when they’re living their full, not-just-parenting lives.

Show them that you have that full life by living it. Pursue your hobbies, spend time with friends that doesn’t include your child. Do the things that you would do if you had never had children. It’s essential prep for the empty nest days. Take your bright light and shine it on all of the other things that matter to you besides your child.

2. Contact doesn’t have to probe.

If their bedroom door is closed most of the time, it’s likely your child is seeking a sense of privacy and independence. That means that when they’re not holed up behind a closed door, they are ready for more contact, but not necessarily a flood. Their presence in the kitchen while you’re getting dinner ready isn’t necessarily a tacit invitation to be thoroughly grilled or attended to.

Go with a light touch and let them lead. A few “anything on your mind?” or “what’s new?” queries are fine, but it’s also important to connect about regular stuff. It doesn’t all have to be about How They’re Doing or Helping Them Be Okay.

Tell them things about your own day. Ask them if they saw that viral cat video. Or simply just be in the same room without conversation. In other words, turn that bright light of parenting so it’s more ambient than direct.

3. Get feedback.

Asking your child “how am I doing?” is oxymoronic in attempting to avoid giving them a sunburn with the bright light of your parenting attention. While some kids might welcome the directness, others might show you a deer in the headlights and feel overexposed.

A middle ground is to make a statement like “Any time you want to tell me I’m too much in your face, or not available enough, I want to hear about it.” And it’s fine to call it out like you see it and say, “Being the only child left at home is a thing, so let’s figure out a way together to make it great.”

Finally, try not to over-focus on your parenting. Just like your child is learning how to be the only child at home, you’re learning how to be a parent of a child who is the only one at home. Be gentle with yourself as you traverse this learning curve.

Yours,

Adina Signature

Have a question? Ask Adina

Adina Glickman is the founder of Affinity Coaching, which offers academic, life and career coaching to young adults. She is the former director of learning strategies at Stanford University and is the co-founder and director of the Academic Resilience Consortium, an association of faculty, staff and students dedicated to understanding and promoting student resilience. Learn more at adinaglickman.com.

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    2 days ago
    CollegiateParent

    4 UNEXPECTED ADVANTAGES OF REMOTE LEARNING

    -shared by Rose Bender, Graduate Student, University of Washington

    If your child has made a temporary shift back to remote learning, they may be feeling teleported back to the early days of the pandemic.

    This (re)loss of structure can be particularly challenging.

    Reframing remote learning as a unique and special opportunity can help as they dive into yet another round of Zoom classes.

    1. ASKING QUESTIONS IS EASY! Thanks to Zoom’s chat function, speaking (typing) up with a question in a big lecture is easier than ever. No need to worry about if you’re interrupting the professor, or wonder what your voice might sound like at 9am before you’ve had breakfast. Just type in the chat, and the professor will answer at their own pace. Anxiety gone!

    2. THE MID-CLASS GOOGLE. Today’s class is on something you KNOW you learned it last semester, but you just can’t seem to remember specifics. No need to flip through pages of your notebook. Ask Dr. Google while class is still running alongside you, and you’ve barely missed a beat!

    3. WATCH AT YOUR OWN PACE. Despite your mid-class Google, you are still feeling totally lost on what was covered today. Instead of trying to slog through a dense textbook, you can thank everyone’s new best friend, Zoom Recording! Watch the lecture a second time; you can even slow to 0.5x speed for the parts that really tripped you up. Alternatively — after today’s class, you’re feeling like the material is WAY too easy for you. Maybe it’s a required class that’s review of something you already know, or it’s just a subject that’s not one you want to dive into. In the age of remote learning, it’s okay to skip Zoom lectures and opt entirely for Zoom recording, making use of captions and the 1.5x speed button to tailor your learning experience to exactly what you need.

    4. MORE TIME FOR MIDDAY WELLNESS. You’ve slashed your commute time down to zero from 15 minutes of trudging through snowy sidewalks, or in my case, cycling through gray Seattle rain. Perhaps you’ve skipped lecture entirely, opting to watch it on 1.5x speed later that evening instead of in the prime hours of the day. You can use that extra time on something good for yourself -- when the sun peeks out, hop outside for a midday walk or run. Instead of microwaving frozen chicken nuggets, chop up some fresh vegetables or take that midday grocery trip to get that missing ingredient for an elaborate salad.

    Many students today have an unprecedented loss of structure. But reframing the loss of structure as a potential gain — a gain in more freedom of how we spend our time — helps me feel lucky to be in school at this unique moment.

    Wishing everyone a successful semester!

    -Rose
    ... See MoreSee Less

    4 UNEXPECTED ADVANTAGES OF REMOTE LEARNING  -shared by Rose Bender, Graduate Student, University of Washington  If your child has made a temporary shift back to remote learning, they may be feeling teleported back to the early days of the pandemic.  This (re)loss of structure can be particularly challenging.  Reframing remote learning as a unique and special opportunity can help as they dive into yet another round of Zoom classes.  1. ASKING QUESTIONS IS EASY! Thanks to Zoom’s chat function, speaking (typing) up with a question in a big lecture is easier than ever. No need to worry about if you’re interrupting the professor, or wonder what your voice might sound like at 9am before you’ve had breakfast. Just type in the chat, and the professor will answer at their own pace. Anxiety gone!  2. THE MID-CLASS GOOGLE. Today’s class is on something you KNOW you learned it last semester, but you just can’t seem to remember specifics. No need to flip through pages of your notebook. Ask Dr. Google while class is still running alongside you, and you’ve barely missed a beat!  3. WATCH AT YOUR OWN PACE. Despite your mid-class Google, you are still feeling totally lost on what was covered today. Instead of trying to slog through a dense textbook, you can thank everyone’s new best friend, Zoom Recording! Watch the lecture a second time; you can even slow to 0.5x speed for the parts that really tripped you up. Alternatively — after today’s class, you’re feeling like the material is WAY too easy for you. Maybe it’s a required class that’s review of something you already know, or it’s just a subject that’s not one you want to dive into. In the age of remote learning, it’s okay to skip Zoom lectures and opt entirely for Zoom recording, making use of captions and the 1.5x speed button to tailor your learning experience to exactly what you need.  4. MORE TIME FOR MIDDAY WELLNESS. You’ve slashed your commute time down to zero from 15 minutes of trudging through snowy sidewalks, or in my case, cycling through gray Seattle rain. Perhaps you’ve skipped lecture entirely, opting to watch it on 1.5x speed later that evening instead of in the prime hours of the day. You can use that extra time on something good for yourself -- when the sun peeks out, hop outside for a midday walk or run. Instead of microwaving frozen chicken nuggets, chop up some fresh vegetables or take that midday grocery trip to get that missing ingredient for an elaborate salad.  Many students today have an unprecedented loss of structure. But reframing the loss of structure as a potential gain — a gain in more freedom of how we spend our time — helps me feel lucky to be in school at this unique moment.  Wishing everyone a successful semester!  -Rose

    Comment on Facebook

    Definitely good way to look on the “bright side”, thanks for sharing

    Love the optimistic perspective!!

    Finding the good Rose! Love this!

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