Well it’s that time of year again when doting parents have dropped their precious children off for their first year of college. If you are one of those proud parents, you have probably prepared for this moment for the past 18 years. I’m sure there were tears of pride and joy as they settled into their small confine of a dorm room and proudly hung their Bob Marley tapestry and put on that favorite t-shirt that sums up their personality in one silkscreen-printed masterpiece. The drive or flight home was probably somber, as you looked through their baby pictures remembering all the good times and bad times. Remember when they did that one thing? It was so cute.
But over the past few weeks, I’m sure things have begun to change. That extra guest room you always wanted just doesn’t look the same without clothes everywhere and that familiar smell of old socks, combined with Axe body spray just doesn’t linger like it once had. If you have other children in the house, they no longer have anyone to fight with or argue over things you don’t understand. Even worse, there is no one to stay up late waiting for, as you watch reruns of Real Housewives of New York City reunions worried your child won’t make it home by curfew. Let’s face it, you want them back.
Here’s the good news: It’s not too late, you can get them back. It’s quite simple and if you follow these ten easy steps, they’ll be home for the Holidays…for good.
- Solve All Their Problems: You know best, but I didn’t need to tell you that. Don’t let them think they can solve their own problems, solve their problems for them. Whenever they call for advice, don’t ask what they think they could do, tell them what to do. And if they have an idea for solving a problem, tell them that it’s the dumbest idea you’ve ever heard. Period.
- Call their Professors: Here’s the thing, your child deserves an A+ for trying hard. And anything less than that should be a slap to your good family name. If your child receives anything less than an A on an assignment call or email the professor and disagree with them. If your child wants to get some “corrective feedback” (most likely a term their hippy adviser taught them) from the professor, tell them that it’s a waste of time and then refer to them as your sweet angel genius.
- Do Their Laundry: I know you were just starting to enjoy your lighter laundry loads that didn’t contain pieces of gum or mysterious lighters, but this one is worth it. If they think they can start doing things for themselves, they will just run with it. Don’t let them get away from you, and continue to do all of those domestic tasks they were so used to. Just think, if they do their own laundry, what will be next? Will they try to get a job? They’ll be gone forever.
- Do Their Homework: Colleges have all of these amazing resources, like writing centers, math labs, and tutors, but discourage your child from using them. This is easier than you might imagine. Remember when they couldn’t find the milk in the refrigerator? That’s right, just don’t tell them where these services are and they’ll never find them. Plus, you know them best, so just FaceTime with them every night and help them with their homework, even if you don’t know what you are doing.
- Tell Them You Don’t Pay for Fun: This could be a tough one, seeing you probably encouraged them to get involved in high school to get them out of your house. But if they start having fun in college, they may like it and want to study more, so they can stay longer. Discourage them from clubs, intramurals, and especially activist groups. You can either mock them for being interested in getting involved, for example, “Only losers do activities in college.” Or you can simply tell them that you don’t pay for their fun, and threaten to take away their allowance if you see any charges for recreation or student groups.
- Volunteering is for Chumps: Tie this one to their pride. Tell them that although there may be a ton of volunteering opportunities on campus, “(Insert Family Name)’s don’t work for free.” Tell them to demand to be paid for any volunteer opportunity and if they are still considering working for free, tell them that you will charge them for lost family wages and shaming your family name.
- Bet on Their Weight: This is a fun one. The name of this game is how much weight can you trick your child into gaining. Poor nutrition has been directly linked to academic challenges, so getting them to binge more and study less should be a no-brainer. First, tell them that the Freshman Fifteen is something everyone does and if they don’t, they’ll be made fun of. Second, tell them to get their money’s worth at the all-you-can-eat cafeteria and gorge until the school loses money. Third, tell them if they are anxious or depressed, the solution is always pizza. Finally, tell them that if they miss breakfast, they should just eat late at night. You’ll have a bloated delirious college Buddha in no time.
- Be the Life of the Party: Now this may be counter to your efforts at having them not have any fun, so you’ll need to be strategic with this one. The trick here is to glorify the binge drinking atmosphere in college. You can tell them your own drunken stories or make them up if you don’t have them, but convince them that being the guy who vomits live gold fish is super cool. Talk about your favorite riot stories from college, or about your lame roommate who never drank and was always doing loser wellness activities. Finally, tell them that the best remedy to a bad college sports defeat or greatest homage to a great win is Miller Time.
- Don’t Use Accommodations: If your child is lucky enough to have a disability in college, they’ll probably be entitled to accommodations in their courses. You can’t let this happen. You could minimize the need for these accommodations by discouraging them from meeting with their counselor in the first place, or if they do, convince them that it’s cheating. Tell them that it’s not fair that other kids don’t get extended time or course notes. Or you could tell them that everyone will laugh at them (note: this strategy could be used for most of these items, just not the Life of the Party tip).
- Check in Regularly: With a plethora of social communication tools at your disposal, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stay in touch. Use all of them. #howareyouhoney? Text them daily to see if they are happy, unhappy, showering, or in class. Then follow up with a phone call or voicemail to see why they didn’t text you back right away. When they start to get irritated, stalk their Facebook page and get the contact information of their closest new college friends, and text them regularly telling them to have your son or daughter call right away. Every once in a while, say it’s an emergency, that’ll keep ‘em guessing.
If you follow these easy and fun guidelines, your child will be home in no time. Then you can enroll them in a local community college and get back to controlling their lives. You’ll once again enjoy your mornings of rushing them out the door, arguing with them about the state of their bedroom, and telling them to chew with their mouths shut. Your precious baby will be back forever.