Your daughter, who graduates from high school, has never had a boyfriend. Is college going to be a rude awakening?
College is always a rude awakening. The lack of a high school boyfriend may not mean much, but if you believe your daughter is naive in the ways of young men, you might want to have a chat to be sure she knows a few commonsense tips on keeping herself safe. Some colleges include this information as part of freshman orientation, but it might be more effective coming from you. — Phil Vettel
Depends. College holds all sorts of surprises. Coed living in dorms with people other than your brothers and sisters can be eye-opening for both sexes. Plus, unless your child is in a same-sex dorm (do they still have them?) with parietal hours, he or she is going to be with others of both genders 24/7. I’m not sure there’s much you can do except remind your daughter to stay true to herself, stay calm and know when to ask for help from residential dorm staff or from you. — Bill Daley
Girls who have reached graduation day boyfriend-free may be harboring fantasies that everything will be different in college, says Joani Geltman, author of “A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens: Talking to Your Kids About Sexting, Drinking, Drugs, and Other Things That Freak You Out” (AMACOM Book).
A lot probably will be different, what with fresh slates and higher maturity levels, but no one will be magically transformed.
Geltman doesn’t recommend lecturing about high expectations, which is a great way to get a teenager to shut you out. Instead, you can ask questions that help your daughter clarify for herself what she wants and expects: “What do you think is going to be different?” “Fill in the blank: When I get to college, I’ll finally be able to ...?” “How are you going to make that happen?”
If you’re concerned about your daughter’s emotional or sexual inexperience, direct your questions toward those issues: “What do you want your first sexual experience to be like?” “Access to alcohol is going to be freer, so how do you feel you’ll handle that?” “Do you have a strategy for ending an intimate encounter that’s gone as far as you want it to go?”
These conversations may make you uncomfortable, but they’re important because your daughter probably can’t talk to her friends about setting boundaries, and she’s going to need some new strategies, even if they’re as simple as just saying “Not tonight!” or “I’ve got to go now.”
“I think the biggest gift a parent can give a teen who’s going off to college is to say, ‘I know you’re going to be in these situations. I’m not judging you. I just want to give you opportunities to be the safest you can be, so let’s talk about it,’ ” Geltman says.