Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: college

My 14-year-old son says he only needs 5 things when he goes to college.




Last week as we were shopping for my daughter for her college move. When we got home, she was so excited to show all her new purchases for her new apartment to her 14-year-old brother.

Olivia described each purchase with such enthusiasm! Her new duvet, her decorative pillows, her Keurig and so on and so on. Matthew looks straight at her and said, “When I go to college, I only need five things.” Then, he listed them:


  1.  A computer
  2. A desk
  3. Wires for computer
  4. Mattress
  5. Pillow

When I found this out, I couldn’t help but ask Matthew why he only wanted to bring five things. He said, ” I don’t need all the frilly, decorative stuff Olivia has for college. I just need my computer and a bed.” Wow, what a difference between a daughter and son! I have one that can spend like a feene and one I have to beg to buy things.

It’s amazing how some people need or require so little to get by and are happy, while other need so much.

I love how they are so different in their needs.

Do you have teen kids who are opposite in what they say they need for college? Do you have teen siblings who are opposite from each other  in general?


College move in day.. Super mom meets Super Walmart!

FullSizeRenderWell, I never thought I would see this day but this weekend, my husband and I took our daughter Olivia to Tallahassee for college.  It’s still surreal for me because we have gone through so many ups and down that I never thought I would see this day.

With all the challenges we have had with Olivia, moving her in for college seemed so far away. Don’t get me wrong, we still argue and have our differences, but now she is a bit more mature and responsible and she listens better to us. That wild teen from the  early high school years has grown up.  Thank God!

After months of shopping and packing for college, we finally moved her into an apartment near campus! She has her room all set up, her clothes in her closet and her bathroom all ready. However, it took multiple trips to Super Walmart for everything to come together. Here I thought I remembered everything, but once you start decorating the room, you realize you need a chair or curtains or a  bookshelf, or even an over-the-toilet shelf.  So where do you go to find all of this at affordable pricing? Super Walmart!

Every super mom needs Super Walmart! It’s our savior, our one-stop shopping palace! It makes our lives so much easier when we have a laundry list of things  to finish to decorate our teen’s college dorm or apartment.

For us, the end result was amazing! Olivia has a new home. It makes me happy knowing she created this home for the next four years and I was a part of it.

Tomorrow, I have to say goodbye to my daughter as she begins a new chapter in her life. I don’t know if I am happy for her, or sad for me. I also don’t  think it has hit me yet. Am I suppressing my feelings because I can’t bear to feel the pain I will experience when I say good bye?

I know she is so ready for this and she has been wanting this for so long that I know she will do well?   I know she is very capable of taking care of herself and responsible enough to handle what comes her way?

Why don’t I know is how  I am going to feel when I say goodbye. Guess, I will have to let you know after tomorrow. I also know that I am so proud of her and all I have ever wanted was the best for Olivia.  Even though she put me through hell,  I love her more than she will ever know.  She has overcome so many obstacles to get here  — more than most teenagers — and I just hope she learned from those obstacles. I believe in her and I believe that one day she will look back at what we went through with her during her teen years and she will say to me, “Thank you mom for not giving up on me and for believing in me. I am sorry I put you through hell. I love you.”

I am so excited for what’s to come for Olivia. I only hope she stays on track and reaches her goals.

It’s not only a new chapter for Olivia, it’s a new chapter for me as well. The journey continues. Stay tuned.



And that’s a wrap folks! Next stop..College bound!

My Olivia has graduated high school. Class of 2016 is moving on to bigger and brighter adventures!

I can’t believe when I first started this blog Olivia was  a young teenager and now she has graduated high school! I never thought this day would come with all the hurdles, challenges and obstacles we have had to overcome. This day seemed like an eternity away, and yet here it is. Next step.. college — an even bigger hurdle I am sure.

Olivia has been wanting to go to college the moment she started high school. She always wanted to be older and hurry life along. That has always been my challenge with her, to slow her down. I hope as she takes on the next chapter of her life, she has learned from her mistakes and will use those lessons to make smart choices and do well in college.

I asked Olivia how it felt to cross the stage and get her diploma. She said “amazing”. I told her, “Now imagine when you graduate college how that must feel. That’s what you need to achieve next.”

Now that Olivia is off to college, I am sure I will have much to blog about her adventures and dramas.  At the same time, my  14-year-old son Matthew will be starting high school in the fall.  Needless to say, I am far from over blogging on raising teens!

Who know what lies ahead? All I know is I am sure it won’t be dull and boring, just one big exciting rollercoaster ride. I just need to hold on tight and enjoy.

Next stop.. college!

Let me know how your high school graduation felt and about your teen’s new adventure to college.



Helping Your Teen with College Acceptances and Rejections

When my son got rejected from his college of choice, I didn’t know what to say.   I wanted to tell my son that everything always works out, but I didn’t because I knew that wasn’t what he wanted to hear while the rejection was raw.  (It turns out he is super happy at the university he ended up at). I wish I was better prepared as a parent to help my teen through this emotional part of the college process.


college letter

For all you parents facing March Madness, that time when the acceptance and rejection emails arrive , here is some great advice for coping from International College  Counselors, a Florida college advisory firm.

How to Help Your Child Cope with College Admissions Results
1. Say positive things.  Let your child know how proud you are of him or her for getting through high school and wanting to go to college. Even before knowing if your child was accepted or rejected at schools.
2.  Stay supportive. This is a hard time for a student whether they get into their first choice college or not. If your child gets rejected, this may be the first time they’re dealing with major disappointment. A parent’s job is to stop this from damaging self-esteem. For students who get in, after the initial euphoria, they’ll start thinking about what going to college really means. Leaving home, leaving friends, leaving a comfortable routine, having to find themselves, and make their own way is difficult. Understandably, this may feel overwhelming.
3.  Talk it out. Allow your child to be emotional. Talk about getting accepted and rejected and turn it into a teachable moment. If your child is hurt over a rejection, be sensitive and acknowledge the pain of disappointment. Then help your child accept that he or she didn’t get in and move forward with the opportunities that do present themselves.  Children who get accepted have a right to be proud, but help them understand that it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of their friends who may not be so happy with their admissions results.
4. Focus on what’s important.  Let your child know that getting into a first pick college is important, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. Let your child know you don’t love or like them any less and they shouldn’t love or like themselves any less either. College is one step on a long road. Much of the college admission process was out of your family’s control. College admissions are highly subjective. A high GPA isn’t the only thing that counts. Maybe the band really needed a new oboe player.
5.  Get help.  Call or meet with your student’s International College Counselor advisor once all the results are in.  One of our expert college counselors can go over the pros of the schools a student was accepted into and there are a number of colleges still accepting applications.
6. Don’t let your child take rejection personally. Someone at the college just didn’t think your child was the right fit at the time. Your student may actually be better off someplace else.  Your child can have a great experience no matter where he or she goes.
7. Practice gratitude.  With your student, thank the people that made a college acceptance possible.  Think of the parent who shared the responsibility of driving hours and hours of carpool, a teacher writing a thoughtful college recommendation, a coach staying a little bit longer after practice, and a principal making sure the student got the classes he/she needed.  No child gets into college without a supportive team.
8. Say Yay!  Celebrate all the college acceptance letters your child gets. Getting into any college is great. Talk to your child about how he or she will let friends know.
9. Reframe the future.  Truly worried students may relax knowing that there is always the option to transfer. Our recommendation is to keep this as a back pocket option and not as a goal. Students who go to college with the intent of transferring won’t be able to enjoy the full college experience they can have. Once they settle in, many students are actually very happy.
10. Do something nice. When all the letters are in, celebrate the end of this intense time.  Go out for a nice family dinner, or give a student a meaningful gift. Make this time positive.




College Bound or Home Bound?

As my daughter applys to colleges and prepares to start the next chapter of her life, I asked her if she would consider going to college locally and staying home. Well, I might as well have cut all her hair off and taken her phone from her because that was the reaction I got. How could I even consider that for her she wanted to know?

I’m sorry,  was that an insult? College is college whether it’s  local or away.  Not to Olivia.college

To her being away at a college – whether it be a big University or small community college – is just that, “AWAY”.  It’s her passage to adulthood. She wants to feel she is starting a new chapter somewhere new, not where she went to high school and while  living at home.

I went to school locally for a couple of years and stayed home, but she and I are different  people. I get that. She knows she won’t feel like she’s growing up living at home. She says she won’t feel like she’s in college, just back in high school.

As silly as that may sound to you and I, to her it’s her reality. It is how she feels and I cant fault her for that. I need to support her in any way that helps her do well in college, whether it be here or away.

In the end, we all have goals and dreams and we set paths to get us there.  Many people may not agree with the path we take to achieve our goals, but, as I always tell Olivia,  it is not where you start that counts, it is where  you end that matters.  People may not understand your choices and they don’t have to. I know I don’t sometimes. But people have to understand that they are your choices.

So, as Olivia prepares for college life, I know she will flourish and thrive being away. Her wings will spread and she will soar.  She is college bound but  that’s okay. untitled

because I know when she wants or needs her mom or dad we will always be here.. home bound.

Senior year and mom is anxious!

It’s senior year! Woah! I can’t believe Olivia will be graduating next year- class of 2016!

I told her over the summer to please not rush the year. Olivia has a tendency to want hurry things along. Shes always in a rush for things to happen. I told her I will be very anxious this year so telling me  everything that we have to do in the next 12 months will truly put me over the top with anxiety. I told her to please, take it one month a t a time. I can’t handle more than that right now.

She was already telling me we needed to go look at places to live in Tallahassee.  I told her, “Are you serious?  You haven’t even started your senior year and you already have yourself graduated and in college? Slow down! What’s the rush? ” She says she can’t wait to be done with high school. Olivia is in such a hurry to grow up and be on her own.  She said,  “Mom, all the good places will be taken.”  No they won’t. You just want to secure that you are going away.  “Let’s see how your first semester goes and after that, we will start looking,”  I said.  Now the tables are turned and I AM the anxious one and overwhelmed. I think she likes the feeling that I need  her to help me  get through this busy year.

I know she can’t wait to go away to college. BUT, I told her going to college isn’t about going away, it’s about getting an education, about  your future.  I told her, “You mess up, you mess up your future, not mine.” She has to realize she can’t have it both ways. She can’t pull the adult card when she wants and at the same time ask for us to help her when she should be helping herself. Not gonna happen.

I bought her a planner to organize herself and of course bought  myself the same one. I figured together we can get through this year one step at a time and enjoy senior year with her as much as we can, even though she can’t wait for it to be over, rushing it along of course.

So for now, one day at a time and a calendar ready to be filled with deadlines, events and college visits.

Do you have a senior graduating  next year?  Did  you already have a senior  graduate? Any words of advice? All are welcome! Anxious momma here!


How Parents Can Survive College Admissions Madness






As a mother of a high school senior who is waiting to hear from colleges about acceptances, I really appreciated this article in the New York Times called How to Survive the College Madness. It talks a lot about how getting into your first college of choice shouldn’t define who you become.

Here’s a link to the article:

As part of the article, author Frank Bruni includes a letter from parents’ to their son regarding college acceptances and rejections. It struck a chord with me and I want to share it with all of you who will someday be in these parents’ shoes like I am right now.

Dear Matt,

On the night before you receive your first college response, we wanted to let you know that we could not be any prouder of you than we are today. Whether or not you get accepted does not determine how proud we are of everything you have accomplished and the wonderful person you have become. That will not change based on what admissions officers decide about your future. We will celebrate with joy wherever you get accepted — and the happier you are with those responses, the happier we will be. But your worth as a person, a student and our son is not diminished or influenced in the least by what these colleges have decided.

If it does not go your way, you’ll take a different route to get where you want. There is not a single college in this country that would not be lucky to have you, and you are capable of succeeding at any of them.

We love you as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky, all the way around the world and back again — and to wherever you are headed.

Mom and Dad




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