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The iConnected Parent: Are You Making Life Too Easy for Your Teen?

So how can you stay connected to your child while fostering her independence? Hofer and Sullivan offer some ways to build your relationship while allowing your child to live life on her own. And it doesn't start right when she leaves for college.

Teach Early Independence
Teaching responsibility should begin early on in your child's life, so when she heads off to college, she is independent enough that she won't have to call home for every little problem that comes along.

"Ideally, college is not the first time to do one's own laundry or talk to a teacher about an academic difficulty. But unfortunately, for some students, it is, and their parents are still helping from afar, sending reminders and intervening on their behalf," says Hofer. "And our research suggests that these are the students least satisfied with college."

Have Balanced Conversations
Parents should try talking to their children about something that happened in their own day, whether at work or at home. According to Hofer and Sullivan, relating events in your life to your child can help her see you more as a person apart from your role as a parent, and can help achieve a more adult relationship.

Instead of rushing to try to fix any problems, Hofer and Sullivan suggest just listening and see how your child can eventually talk herself through the problem. If you have trouble doing this, Hofer offers some advice.

"What helps seems to be taking the long view--think about the kind of person you want your child to become and the kind of skills you want her to have...it can also help to remember what you've learned from your own stumbles along the way."

Keep Roles in Check
Modern technology is also changing the way children view their relationships with their parents, with many describing them as their "best friend." Although having open communication and trust is important, it is also important to remember what comes first— parenting.

"College students need to build close friendships at college— a healthy part of development during this period of life. Spending an hour a day on the phone with mom, sharing confidences that could be offered to new friends, might impede this process," says Hofer.


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