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Taking A Cue From Your Kids

Taking A Cue From Your KidsIn an interview with CBS’ Early Show, a Tufts mother-daughter team advised parents and college students on staying in touch without getting on each other’s nerves. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.17.03] For many students, college offers a long-awaited chance for more freedom and independence. But for parents, the experience of sending a kid off to school often includes the dilemma of trying to stay in touch with them without overwhelming them. In an appearance on CBS' Early Show, a Tufts mother-daughter team who are going through the process themselves offered some tips for staying close without getting on each other's nerves.

"It's about letting your child go do what she's supposed to do at this stage of life," Tufts graduate Marlin Potash - who co-authored the book "Am I Weird Or Is This Normal?" - told CBS. "A college kid is supposed to learn to be independent, and so parents have to really back off and allow their child to become an adult, which is hard."

Her daughter, Tufts sophomore Laura Fruitman, agrees.

"It's important to talk to your parents," Fruitman - who co-authored the book with her mother - told the hosts of the Early Show. "I know most of my friends, we all call our parents for help and sort of ‘Mom, I'm having a horrible time' ... but we're still trying to be adults and become the people that we're going to be."

Which can easily result in some mixed signals.

"Sometimes your college kid will push you away, but college kids really do want their parents to stay involved and be pushed away and come back again, not necessarily the way parents want to come back, but being in touch in some ways," Potash - a licensed psychologist and therapist - told CBS.

According to the mother-daughter team, there are some communications tactics that work well and others that are best to avoid.

Pre-arranged phone calls, for example, are a good way to keep the lines of communication open.

"I think it's a good idea if we know that there's a time during the day that our parents are going to be home," the Tufts student told the hosts of the Early Show. "It's helpful to talk to them."

But parents need to be careful not to pry too much during the calls.

"The best way to handle it for a parent is ‘Tell me something interesting that happened to you this week,' you now," Potash said. "You kid's going to tell you something that he or she wants to share, but you're not saying, ‘So what did you get on that paper you wrote?'"

And parents should never surprise their kids with a visit.

"When they show up and we have no idea they were coming and our room is a mess and ... it's just ... no," Fruitman told the Early Show.

Replace a surprise visit with a care package instead, says the Tufts student.

"Lots of food, lots of money," Fruitman joked. "We're big fans."

Ultimately, the mother-daughter team said college students are looking for support from their parents while they explore their new independence.

"We're sort of unsure. We're going away. We're learning to become adults. And part of us thinks that we're adults already, and that we can handle life - but at the same time, we're not there yet," Fruitman said. "We're in the process of learning and becoming the people that we're going to be and we need help. We need our [parents] to guide us and to help us with their wisdom, but, at the same time, not treat us like children anymore because we do feel like we are adults."

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