Dr. Cathleen McGreal is a psychology professor and certified spiritual director.
Q: MY DAUGHTER IS IN HER FIRST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE,
and her grades have slipped since high school. I tried calling her academic advisor, but no one will talk to me. What can I do?
A: After 18 years of parenting, it can be challenging to accept how much your role changes as your child reaches adulthood. In this case, the government established laws re-flecting one of these changes. When you tried calling your daughter’s academic adviser, it is not surpris-ing that no one would talk to you because you may have been asking school officials to break the law!
The right to educational information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has been in place in the U.S. since 1974. As a parent, you are familiar with family rights during the K-12 years. But there are key changes when a student reaches college; educational information is now in your daughter’s hands. If the institution receives federal funding through U.S. Department of Education programs, then FERPA must be adhered to by school officials.
Follow your daughter’s lead. Your daughter has shared her con-cern about her grades. Rather than “hovering over her” like a helicopter parent and attempting to solve the problem for her, you can encourage her to brainstorm various options to improve her grades. What strate-gies, if any, has she tried to bring the grades up? Empower her to follow up on her own ideas about changes in time management, inter-actions with professors, etc. The life skills involved in determining how to change her behaviors will prove useful in college and beyond.
Adult children “should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their par-ents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel.” (CCC #2230)