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Dear Adina

What Can I Say to Give My Student Hope for the Future?

Adina Glickman


Dear Adina,

My young adult child has shared her feelings that she probably won't want to have kids because of climate change and how "messed up" the world is going to be in another twenty years. This makes me sad, not just on a personal level, but because she says many of her friends feel the same way. What would you suggest I could say to make her feel more hopeful about the future of our planet?


Dear Parent,

When I was pregnant, someone gave me a book of quotes about parenthood. I remember just one: “Having a baby is the ultimate act of optimism.” Your daughter, and so many in her generation, is struggling to find optimism in a world that is, indeed, deeply messed up.

But optimism doesn’t only come from what we see when we look around and assess whether the world is going in a good direction. Optimism comes from when we look into ourselves and see that we create our world, we create our future, and the good things inside us have the power to make things good outside of us.

The good in us may produce a baby or a spectacular piece of art, or a delicious batch of lemon bars, or a technique for teaching dogs how to sniff out cancer cells. It is the possibility of doing good and making our contribution — in whatever form that takes — that is the basis for optimism. It’s about what’s possible.

Your daughter is having trouble seeing what’s possible because these have been some dark years. It’s almost like we are living the longest most frigid March night ever. In nighttime, we can’t see very far in front of us; we can’t see the beauty of color that inspires us; during darkness, the world is a limited place and we tend to close ranks and get safe.

The pandemic has made this last year particularly dark, and we also add the collective grief and anxiety around our years-long night of climate crisis, racial reckoning and political upheaval. Dark times indeed.

So here’s my advice about darkness: We have a rule in our house that no important decisions can be made after 9 p.m. In fact we usually steer clear of serious discussion after dark because everything is scarier in the dark and we are more depleted as the day draws to a close. What our bright-eyed morning selves will carefully and thoughtfully untangle, our nighttime selves will see as dire and desperate.

All of this is to say that now is not the time to be making big declarations like “I’m not going to have children.” Let’s wait until the daylight of a vaccinated world can show us what is possible. And furthermore, let’s invite our children to be part of a world that continues to make positive contributions towards racial truth and reconciliation, social and economic justice, and gender equality. Just saying.

Whether or not your daughter births a child from her own body, adopts one borne by another’s, or decides to live her life without a child as part of it, she will make her contribution in whatever meaningful way she determines.

Yours,

Adina Signature

Have a question? Ask Adina

Adina Glickman is the founder of Affinity Coaching Group, which offers academic, life, parenting and career coaching. 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 affinitycoachinggroup.com.
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    2 days ago
    CollegiateParent

    Summer is the perfect time for college kids to catch up on medical and dental appointments.

    And it’s also an opportunity to launch a discussion about their sexual health.

    Is this a topic that your student is open about with you?

    Some of our kids tell us everything, some of them edit out things that make them – or us - uncomfortable, and some of them rarely talk about anything more personal than what they’re laughing at on Tik Tok.

    Here’s a tip if you have a kid who never talks about anything related to relationships or sex. Use any number of current events to broach the subject. Rising monkeypox cases, reproductive rights, and Pride month have all been in the news and are “tip of the iceberg” topics that can get your college student to open up and start talking.

    Whether you know they are or are not sexually active, it’s always a good idea to let our college kids know that we are continuously there to answer any questions, provide resources, and support them in making healthy decisions about things like intimate relationships, consent, contraception, and STD testing.

    Coming at these issues with a judgment free attitude is key, because let’s face it – when our kids are away at school, we have no way of knowing what they are doing, and they are legal adults who don’t need our permission to engage in any type of relationship. If we want to be able to have honest discussions about all aspects of health with them, we need them to know we love and care for them above all else, even if what they are doing has not been our lived experience or we don’t endorse some of their decisions.

    If you or your college student are looking for information on any health-related topic, a great place to start is the Resource page at the American College Health Association site, www.acha.org

    For a Situation Summary of the current monkeypox outbreak, you can consult the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

    And consider passing along this excellent resource from www.healthline.com on “Where to Get Free or
    Lower-Cost STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Testing in Each State.”

    - Marybeth Loyd Bock, MPH
    ... See MoreSee Less

    Summer is the perfect time for college kids to catch up on medical and dental appointments.  And it’s also an opportunity to launch a discussion about their sexual health.  Is this a topic that your student is open about with you?  Some of our kids tell us everything, some of them edit out things that make them – or us - uncomfortable, and some of them rarely talk about anything more personal than what they’re laughing at on Tik Tok.  Here’s a tip if you have a kid who never talks about anything related to relationships or sex. Use any number of current events to broach the subject. Rising monkeypox cases, reproductive rights, and Pride month have all been in the news and are “tip of the iceberg” topics that can get your college student to open up and start talking.  Whether you know they are or are not sexually active, it’s always a good idea to let our college kids know that we are continuously there to answer any questions, provide resources, and support them in making healthy decisions about things like intimate relationships, consent, contraception, and STD testing.  Coming at these issues with a judgment free attitude is key, because let’s face it – when our kids are away at school, we have no way of knowing what they are doing, and they are legal adults who don’t need our permission to engage in any type of relationship. If we want to be able to have honest discussions about all aspects of health with them, we need them to know we love and care for them above all else, even if what they are doing has not been our lived experience or we don’t endorse some of their decisions.  If you or your college student are looking for information on any health-related topic, a great place to start is the Resource page at the American College Health Association site, www.acha.org  For a Situation Summary of the current monkeypox outbreak, you can consult the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)  And consider passing along this excellent resource from www.healthline.com on “Where to Get Free or
Lower-Cost STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Testing in Each State.”  - Marybeth Loyd Bock, MPH
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