Wednesday’s Parent: Control the control

Remotely controlling the remote control. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Remotely controlling the remote control. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

I pause, fast forward and go back. The power of a remote control is awesome. If only life worked that way, parenting would be a cinch.

The other day I was tempted to aim the TV remote control at the phone while on a call with my daughter. My advice was golden and I feared she wouldn’t take it. I wanted to replay my words a couple of times for emphasis but if she was aiming hers right back, she may have pushed the mute button.

Life would be so less stressful if our children always did what we said and what we wanted. The college process magnifies this. Choosing a major, college and career kick off our children’s adulthood and we parents are used to input plus parenting styles have influence.

But do we really want to raise a “Stepford child?”

As both a parent and a child, I’ve viewed life from both sides now and this is what I’ve learned:

  • On opinions: I don’t always agree or have other family members agree with me. But I share a lot of my parents’ values and beliefs although I am no clone. My children and I have many opinions in common, too but they are not POCSmom robots. The most important thing is we are all comfortable expressing our points of view no matter the topic and regardless of how much our opinions differ.
  • On advice: My kids don’t like unsolicited advice from me any more than I did from my own parents. But when my children seek advice, I do want to be one of their “go to” people. I don’t expect them to follow all my suggestions but I do expect to get a full and fair hearing.
  • On relationships: Time changes relationship dynamics between parents and children as they age. Ready or not, the cycle of parenting life goes from parenting a child to parenting an adult child to parenting a parent. Accepting and adjusting to the new normal is easier with sympathy, empathy and the opposite of apathy.
  • On support: There is a difference between supporting a child and backing up her decision. I want my children to know they must live with the consequences of their decisions and they can always come to me. Mistakes will happen and I will do my very best to banish the words, “I told you so” and replace them with “I’m listening” when they are ready to talk.

Like good college prep, it’s helpful to concentrate on the goal and work backwards to see the best way to achieve it. Raising a child to be an independent, self-supporting good decision maker requires similar preparation. It’s about slowly transferring the control, making open discussion about issues and options routine, giving advice when asked, and being prepared to support them whatever the decision.

For more great insight about teens and college, read Suzanne’s blog about being a control freak and how to control the control. 


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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