Ad­vice from the best in the UAE.

MY SON IS AP­PRE­HEN­SIVE OF COL­LEGE LIFE Ad­vice on par­ent­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and nu­tri­tion

Friday - - Contents -

Q My son has just done very well in his ex­ams and my hus­band and I couldn’t be prouder of him. How­ever, we’ve now got an is­sue; he’s se­cured him­self a schol­ar­ship to study abroad at a top Euro­pean univer­sity but he’s telling us he doesn’t want to go. He says that he is scared, that he is wor­ried he won’t fit in and find friends, and that he will miss home. We are wor­ried he will miss out on an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity and re­gret this later in his life.

AFor a lot of adults, the years spent in their univer­sity or col­lege are re­mem­bered very fondly. But for a young per­son about to leave home for the first time and take those first real steps into adult­hood, the prospect can be quite daunt­ing. Leav­ing home is one thing, but mov­ing to a dif­fer­ent coun­try at the same time can make the ex­pe­ri­ence twice as in­tim­i­dat­ing.

Like any ex­pe­ri­ence in life, how­ever, the worry lead­ing up to it is of­ten far worse than the ac­tual move it­self. Your son is clearly strug­gling with the build-up to this mas­sive change in his life – and re­ally, that’s the word that is at the very core of this is­sue. Change.

Your son sounds like an ex­cep­tion­ally bright and tal­ented young man, but even the bright­est brains can have trou­ble pro­cess­ing change, or the prospect of it. Younger peo­ple are of­ten far more sus­cep­ti­ble to neg­a­tive feel­ings around big changes in their life­style.

He no doubt has a com­fort­able and happy life at home, and lots of friends. The thought of leav­ing all these things be­hind to cre­ate a new life abroad might be so daunt­ing to him that he would go as far as com­pletely re­ject­ing a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity just to keep his life in equi­lib­rium.

But, as par­ents, you have to show him that by try­ing to keep things ‘the same’, he’s only hurt­ing him­self, and his fu­ture. Ac­cept­ing and em­brac­ing change is one of the main in­gre­di­ents to suc­cess – but all too of­ten, we let bril­liant op­por­tu­ni­ties pass us by be­cause we’re afraid.

Try to keep your emo­tions out when you talk to him about it. At the end of the day, you want him to go to univer­sity out of a gen­uine in­ter­est in his own fu­ture, not be­cause he’s wor­ried that he’ll up­set or dis­ap­point you.

The best way to change your son’s mind about re­ject­ing his schol­ar­ship is to show him that the ben­e­fits of mak­ing this move will greatly out­weigh the feel­ings he’s cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. Try to pique his ex­cite­ment about his course, and the ex­pe­ri­ences he will have study­ing in an in­ter­est­ing new coun­try. Re­mind him how lucky he is to have such an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity, and also let him know that, even though he will be away from home, he will al­ways be part of your fam­ily life.

You can show him that, de­spite the dis­tance be­tween you, you will al­ways be there to com­fort him – whether this be through Skype, text mes­sage or vis­it­ing him. That’s the best part of our mod­ern, in­ter­con­nected world – ‘dis­tance’ is be­com­ing a thing of the past.

You can also re­as­sure him that he’ll def­i­nitely find friends at univer­sity. Every­one who be­gins univer­sity is in the same boat, and be­ing in that kind of shared sit­u­a­tion

Deal­ing with CHANGE is never easy. The way to over­come it is to em­brace it, feel the FEAR, do it any­way and RE­ALISE it’s not as bad as you thought

al­lows friend­ships to de­velop eas­ily and nat­u­rally. And, while the idea of liv­ing in an un­fa­mil­iar coun­try can cer­tainly feel over­whelm­ing, the life ex­pe­ri­ences your son will gain will de­fine him as the adult he will be­come.

Deal­ing with change is never easy. The only way to over­come it is to em­brace it, feel the fear, do it any­way and re­alise that the thing you feared is not as bad as you thought it would be – of­ten, it’s much bet­ter than ex­pected. All your son needs is your sup­port to push through his fears – I’m sure he’s go­ing to have a fan­tas­tic time.

RUS­SELL HEMMINGS is a life coach, and clin­i­cal and cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­a­pist

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