My College:
Dear Adina

Do I Have to Treat My Two Children the Same?

Adina Glickman


Dear Adina,

My youngest daughter is a freshman engineering major at a small private university. She wants to work spring semester to earn money to cover her (expensive!) sorority dues and has her eye on a job at the campus COVID-19 testing center.

I'm worried about two things: her health (possible exposure to COVID) and also the stress of piling extra work on top of a very heavy course load. However, her older sister (a junior) was expected to earn her own money for sorority dues so it feels like an equity issue. I don't want to make an exception for the younger one if it will look like favoritism and lead to hard feelings in our family. What's your advice?


Dear Worried Parent,

First, props to you for raising two women who take it as their responsibility to earn money to support something that matters to them like sorority dues. That’s a win for both parenting and adulting!

Your attention to equity is also a sign of great parenting. Sibling rivalry is real, and the more we can do to defuse the battles borne of imagined (or real) imbalances, the better.

But although in any given moment things may be unequal, we can remind ourselves — and our kids — not to tally each moment or experience as if it defines the whole of their lives. Try as we might to keep the fires of Fairland burning, each of our children lives their own unique life and faces different circumstances and capacities in meeting life’s challenges.

Your older daughter’s situation is not equal to your younger daughter’s in one very important way: your younger daughter is in her first year of college during a pandemic. Although I’m sure your older daughter faced unique situations that made paying for her sorority dues its own challenge, the opportunities to earn money were profoundly different two years ago than they are now.

When making decisions, we often see the options as binary. Yes, she should earn the money by working at a testing center next semester, or no she shouldn’t. By disaggregating the elements and thinking creatively about the options, more options than “yes” or “no” usually emerge.

For example, could she borrow the money and earn it back when she can find employment that poses less of a risk and/or her schedule is less demanding? Or are there other less risky jobs available that are equally viable? If it’s her academic workload that is an issue, can she lighten that while working?

And, since your radar is tuned to equity with her sister, I wonder if they have talked about it? Sisters can be protective of one another and it’s possible your older daughter would actually forego the equity issue rather than see her sister overloaded or working a risky job.

The question of whether or not it is advisable to work in a COVID-19 testing site raises a different set of questions that are important to address in order to get to the yes, the no, or some new option. Does this feel like particularly meaningful work to her, or is it just what’s available? Where will she be living while doing this work, and are there high-risk individuals in that living situation? Has she explored the protocols of the testing center to determine how well protected she would be?

Ultimately, each of us has to attend to our own internal barometer about what feels like too much risk, and uncomfortable as it is for you, she will have to make that determination by checking in with herself.

I would continue to encourage your younger daughter’s sense of ownership and commitment to earning enough to pay her sorority dues, and work with her to make informed decisions that she feels comfortable with.

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.
  • Dear Adina Header
  • Have a question?
    Ask Adina
  • Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
    2 days ago
    CollegiateParent

    Dorm decorating has become an industry.

    There are professional dorm decorators, décor kits, Pinterest boards, etc. There are even colleges and universities with reputations for high level décor by their students.

    I’d like to share some thoughts about décor for parents and students to consider.

    Room Furnishings Policy

    Every Residence Life Department has a dorm decorating policy in place. It is so important to follow the rules to avoid fines for damages, missing items, etc. Many residence halls restrict the use of tape and adhesive products because they aren’t always removed properly and despite the “no damage” promise can damage walls and doors. Decorating policies can vary widely because they’re based on the particular building and its paint, furniture, etc.

    Furniture

    Room furniture provided by the college and university is required to remain in the room unless other arrangements have been made (for example, because of a medical accommodation). This means any furniture removed (without the school’s approval) is the responsibility of the student(s) assigned to the room. Work with the furniture in your space.

    Also, be mindful when adjusting beds because if the bed is damaged, you are responsible for the cost. Always contact staff to receive assistance. Some colleges have loft kits available to rent to raise your bed. Check your housing website or handbook for details.

    Roommates’ Décor

    Students (and their families) often get excited about decorating and want to include the roommate on the venture. While this is a friendly gesture, be mindful there may be limitations for the roommate. I recently saw a TikTok video where a parent asks their student’s roommate to purchase a certain set of bedding from Amazon. The student couldn’t afford it and the parent was upset and requested a roommate change for their student.

    While this seems extreme it’s not uncommon. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to coordinating with roommates:

    The roommate has their own style.

    Everyone doesn’t want to match their roommate’s décor.

    Everyone can’t afford the same things.

    A student can ask their roommate but there is no obligation to say yes.

    Also, a parent should never reach out to a student’s roommate without permission. If the families don’t know each other, it can cause anxiety for both students. Roommates should communicate with one another directly.

    Decorating a dorm room can be a fun, exciting experience. Of course you want to help make that space as comfortable as possible for your student! Just remember to consider the policies, be respectful of the other roommate(s), and don’t overdo the décor because sometimes space is limited. It’s best to start with a small number of items and then add if needed.

    Happy Decorating!

    - from LaTrina Rogers, The Dorm Mom
    ... See MoreSee Less

    Dorm decorating has become an industry.  There are professional dorm decorators, décor kits, Pinterest boards, etc. There are even colleges and universities with reputations for high level décor by their students.  I’d like to share some thoughts about décor for parents and students to consider.  Room Furnishings Policy  Every Residence Life Department has a dorm decorating policy in place. It is so important to follow the rules to avoid fines for damages, missing items, etc. Many residence halls restrict the use of tape and adhesive products because they aren’t always removed properly and despite the “no damage” promise can damage walls and doors. Decorating policies can vary widely because they’re based on the particular building and its paint, furniture, etc.  Furniture  Room furniture provided by the college and university is required to remain in the room unless other arrangements have been made (for example, because of a medical accommodation). This means any furniture removed (without the school’s approval) is the responsibility of the student(s) assigned to the room. Work with the furniture in your space.  Also, be mindful when adjusting beds because if the bed is damaged, you are responsible for the cost. Always contact staff to receive assistance. Some colleges have loft kits available to rent to raise your bed. Check your housing website or handbook for details.  Roommates’ Décor  Students (and their families) often get excited about decorating and want to include the roommate on the venture. While this is a friendly gesture, be mindful there may be limitations for the roommate. I recently saw a TikTok video where a parent asks their student’s roommate to purchase a certain set of bedding from Amazon. The student couldn’t afford it and the parent was upset and requested a roommate change for their student.  While this seems extreme it’s not uncommon. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to coordinating with roommates:  The roommate has their own style.  Everyone doesn’t want to match their roommate’s décor.  Everyone can’t afford the same things.  A student can ask their roommate but there is no obligation to say yes.  Also, a parent should never reach out to a student’s roommate without permission. If the families don’t know each other, it can cause anxiety for both students. Roommates should communicate with one another directly.  Decorating a dorm room can be a fun, exciting experience. Of course you want to help make that space as comfortable as possible for your student! Just remember to consider the policies, be respectful of the other roommate(s), and don’t overdo the décor because sometimes space is limited. It’s best to start with a small number of items and then add if needed.  Happy Decorating!  - from LaTrina Rogers, The Dorm Mom

    Comment on Facebook

    Natalie Nevares

    Load more
  • Don't Miss Out!

    Get engaging stories and helpful information all year long. Join our college parent newsletter!

    Subscribe Today