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This is the Kool-Aid That Your Kid's College Wants You to Drink
on May 17, 2016
My wife and I are so far survivors of 24 person-years of being college parents. When we went to our very first parent meeting in 2008, this book was highly recommended by the Residence Life people. We read it, loved it, and recommended it to others. We lived it. Until a conversation with one of our kids ended in what could only be described as a desperate call for advice because there was no way out of something and the college was trying to keep a lid on the situation. So as our experience grew, we started to realize that "letting go" is exactly what your kid's college wants: and it is not at all what they need.
To explain, this book does a great job of going through the emotions of allowing your child to become part of someone else's community (in this case, the college or university). Where we have found the trouble is, is that almost every one of these communities is dysfunctional,and almost destructive, and if you just plan on being a good parent and getting your head patted while your son or daughter is dealing with bizarre policies, student-run underground crime rings (you want it? you can get it all -- for a price -- and often with the help of some other kid's twisted parent), etc. We had one child whose roommate decided his life ambition was to become the Joker and make his own syndicate, which he did in his own dorm: the college told us that everything was fine, and to go back to our poppy field and be good parents and let them experience life.
Each of our kids, when they come home, are different people than they left. Their value systems have been temporarily twisted, and they look at my wife and I as if we have changed.... but we haven't. They have. And with the support of a college or university that really, truly does not want us seeing what is behind the curtain.
So if the "Residence Life" people at your kid's college or university recommends this book, it is indeed worth a read. But never, EVER "let go:" what they will experience, especially in the dorms, is not at all what you might expect, and you are going to need to be at least some of the bedrock on which they can figure out a way to get around something that 30 years ago none of us ever had to deal with.