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Seeking Child Advice

May 3, 2017 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Ask Dr. Mike, Columns No Comments

– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.
Dr. Mike,
Our daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, is furious with us for not allowing her go to beach week this year with her boyfriend who is graduating from high school in June. While we trust our daughter and really like her boyfriend, we’re not comfortable with her being at the beach with a large group of unsupervised rowdy teenagers where drinking and drugs will be present. Her position is that she’s super responsible at home with chores and helping out, she gets excellent grades and doesn’t drink alcohol or do drugs. Her other point is that she will be in college in two years anyway where there will be alcohol and drugs so why be so controlling. All of her points are valid, so are we being overly controlling?
– Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned Parents,
As a sophomore, I agree with you that your daughter is too young to be away from home and unsupervised in this sort of environment. I recommend that you let her know that you are proud of her for the choices she’s made for herself in life thus far as a teenager; that it’s really the situation you don’t trust and not her.

You can point out that research has consistently shown that teens who drink are vulnerable to exercising poor judgement and impulse control and to acting-out physically, sexually and/or aggressively. And teens who drink are also more likely to be the victim of sexual or physical assault.

Perhaps you could also let her know that graduating from high school is a rite of passage moment, and senior beach week is a time to celebrate that accomplishment with peers – and that in two years you are confident that she will be ready when it’s her senior beach week.

We all remember things we wanted to do when we were younger that our parents denied us. But sometimes parents need to make the hard decisions, even if it doesn’t win us points with our children.

Dr. Mike,
There is a dad of another girl on my daughter’s soccer team that is really taking side-line coaching too far. My daughter is eight years old and sensitive, and although I understand him yelling at her to “pass,” “get open,” and “hustle,” is what he thinks is best for the team, she only hears a man yelling at her and making her feel like she doesn’t measure up. I know this is supposed to be fun, but she has been tearful after a few games and doesn’t want to play anymore. What do I do? – Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned Parents,
I think you should talk to the dad at your daughter’s next practice or before her next game. Be mindful of your feelings before you speak to him; it’s better to approach him with an open mind and kind heart than it is to be correcting or defensiveness in manner.
I would explain to him that while you appreciate his cheering and directing of the children as a devoted dad, your daughter is sensitive and has become upset by his excitement on the side-line. I would not expect that this dad wants to hurt the children, and as soon as he hears how your daughter feels, he’ll likely pipe down.

It’s easy for parents to get caught up in team sports for their children, but we should all recognize that we don’t know the inner workings of all the young players like we do our own children, and thus, we need to think twice about how we cheer and encourage our little ones from the sideline.

Dr. Mike,
My son will be a junior next year and is planning on taking only one AP course. Most of the kids in our neighborhood will be taking 3-4. My son is a good student, and I want to support his choices, but it seems as if 3-4 APs is now the new normal and only taking one will put him behind for college applications, so do we need to push him harder? – Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned Parents,
There is no doubt that getting into college/university has become increasingly difficult over the years – even for competitive students with solid grades and SAT scores. At the end of the day, there are more applicants than there is space, and so every aspect of your son’s application counts.

While doing more academically is certainly important, and while college admission departments have GPA and SAT numbers they like and don’t like, admission counselors have always stressed the importance of a balanced application in my conversations with them over the years. And an academically impressive but imbalanced application can sometimes be passed up. As a child psychologist, I’ve seen applicants with outstanding GPAs and SAT scores get turned down by good schools, and I’ve seen applicants with less than stellar GPAs and SAT scores, but more balanced applications, get accepted to those very same schools.

So, in addition to an impressive academic record, community service, volunteering, internships, etc. – activities where your son gives back – are important parts of a balanced college application.

Before encouraging your son to take more APs next year, I recommend that you first ask him about his future plans; does he wish to attend college after high school, and if so, what colleges does he plan to apply to? I would then research each school’s requirements to see if your son is a good fit. He could also meet with his school’s advisor or you could hire a private college placement professional.

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice. He has been featured on CNN Nightly News, Good Morning America and several other media outlets. He can be reached at 703 723-2999 and is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 240, Ashburn.

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