Swiftwater Journey

faith, culture, and growing up in a rapidly changing world

College Finals and a Puppy Party December 13, 2010

Filed under: Adolescence,education,emerging adults,Technology — billmacphee @ 9:48 pm
Tags: ,

The bad economy and a scary job market add to already stressed out college students. Silly, fun, and hilarious extra-curricular events plus greater attention to the mental health of emerging adults is the antidote and preventative medicine that colleges across the country employ to take a bit of the pressure off. One positive alternative to more alcohol and drugs to relieve stress …

On a lawn at the Claremont campus, two fenced pens were set up, one with six bunnies and the other with 10 puppies. Over two hours, about 300 students took turns climbing inside and playing with the animals at the student-organized event.

I wonder about the stress level the puppies endured …

The American College Health Association estimates 40 percent of male students and half of female students report feeling so depressed that, at least once in the past year, it interfered with their day-to-day functioning.

Is it possible that helicopter parents rob their midadolescents of the opportunities to develop important life skills that include managing time, stress, and relationships? High School life at its best includes supportive parents who are present yet allow their children to face and navigate the inevitable pressures of deciding how to prioritize and eliminate the unimportant from the necessary.

Some scholars note that social media, including Facebook and Twitter, create their own frustrating and numbing sense of anxiety. One professor invites his students to abstain from all social media during the duration of his semester course, journaling their experience. There is good advice and tips for reducing social media stress from mashable.com.

We are all better off if, during this Christmas season, we slow down, disconnect appropriately, and focus on what matters most.


msnbc video: Are 20-somethings afraid of growing up? August 25, 2010

Filed under: Adolescence,emerging adults,Parenting — billmacphee @ 9:20 pm
Tags: , ,

msnbc video: Are 20-somethings afraid of growing up?.

What are the implications for parenting and for secondary school teachers and youth workers in our churches?


Independence day comes late for millennials – washingtonpost.com March 28, 2010

Filed under: emerging adults,Parenting — billmacphee @ 6:25 am

Independence day comes late for millennials – washingtonpost.com.

If you are 18-35, what is your financial arrangement with your parents? In what ways is it helpful? In what ways is it potentially harmful? Is financial independence a final marker of adulthood?


Facebook study shows college students paint the story of idealized life February 17, 2010

Filed under: emerging adults,Technology — billmacphee @ 11:44 pm

Facebook study co-authored by Temple professor finds emphasis on college rituals.

“It was really interesting to see the visual worlds that students construct for themselves,” said Mendelson. “It’s an argument to each other of the life they wish for and idealize.”

Also notable was what was missing from the photos: family members, especially older family members, and anything related to academics such as studying or going to class.

“The photos are not about the reality of college, but rather building this idealized college experience,” said Papacharissi.


The American Freshman | National Norms 2009 February 9, 2010

Filed under: emerging adults — billmacphee @ 10:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

The American Freshman from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA

A record number of incoming freshmen expect to participate in volunteer and community service, but how to pay for college tops their concerns.

The 2009 freshman norms are based on the responses of 219,864 first-time, full-time, first-year students at 297 of the nation’s baccalaureate colleges and universities. The data have been statistically adjusted to reflect the responses of the 1.4 million first-time, full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities as firstyear students in 2009.


In Defense of Helicopter Parenting December 31, 2009

Dr. Sarah Ravin is a trained scientist-practitioner in clinical psychology specializing in the treatment of adolescents and their families with various eating disorders. Her recent blog responding to last month’s Time Magazine article warning of the downside of over-involved, enmeshed, controlling parents gives a short defense as to when helicopter parents actually help their teenagers get well.

In Defense of Helicopter Parenting « eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and psychotherapy.

Dr. Ravin does acknowledge the potential and real harm done by helicopter parents, citing the work of Eric Erickson, who taught that “the primary developmental task of middle adulthood (ages 30-50) is seeking satisfaction through productivity in career, family, and civic interests.” This desire clashes with the needs of their children, who according to Dr. Ravin, are right in the middle of their primary adolescent developmental task: identity formation.

“Children need to play, explore, relax, and interact with their surroundings in creative, imaginative ways. Adolescents need to loaf, “hang out,” date, experience “teen angst,” spend quality time with family and friends, develop their social skills, make their own choices (within reason), make mistakes, and learn from them.”

In her practice, and I believe this will be verified by other therapists with an adolescent focus, Dr. Ravin sees middle adolescents and emerging adults woefully lacking in the kind of development that is required to step into adult roles and responsibilities (“solid self-identity, resilience, confidence, good problem-solving skills, and the ability to tolerate discomfort and failure”). Is it possible that helicopter parents stunt necessary growth? I think the answer is yes. In the research of those of us involved with ParenTeen, we’ve found that over-controlling parenting styles are another form of the all-pervasive systemic abandonment of adolescents stunting their maturity. According to Dr. Ravin:

“Their lives have been geared entirely towards achievement in academics, arts, and athletics, often not for the love of science or music or soccer, but because their parents pushed them and/or because they believed it would improve their chances of gaining admission to a prestigious college. Quite often, they don’t know how to structure their time, study properly, deal with disappointment, or make decisions independently. Sadly, many of them do not know who they are or what they enjoy.”

The pendulum can swing to parenting extremes: uninvolved, disinterested, lenient, absent, and self-absorbed, or controlling, hovering, over-protective, and enmeshed. Both styles fail to provide the kind of positive nurture, boundarying, and coming alongside, that adolescent’s need and want. Many parents simply leave their kids alone way too much. But others hurt through their driving presence.

“Helicopter parenting has the potential to be quite harmful to children by increasing their stress and anxiety and preventing them from developing self-confidence, resourcefulness, problem-solving skills, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation skills, and creativity. Children and adolescents are over-scheduled, over-worked, and pushed to succeed, often at the expense of their emotional health. There is not enough unstructured time for kids to play, explore, or create. There is little room for adolescent identity formation in between AP classes, Princeton Review SAT prep courses, college applications, three varsity sports, band practice, clubs, and mandatory community service hours.”

Dr. Ravin gives the caveat that as she works with adolescent’s seeking control and recovery of an eating disorder, the helicopter parents do step up to the plate in a positive and proactive way. She would rather have the involvement and support of a super-involved parent rather than one who from a distance wants her to “fix” their child.

More important than our parenting style at a given point is how we as parents and a community are present for our kids. They need loving, present, positive, boundary-making, flexible, parents who understand the length and complexity of the adolescent journey.


Colleges See Rise In Mental Health Issues : NPR October 22, 2009

Colleges See Rise In Mental Health Issues : NPR.

Whether the rise in mental illness among college students is due to an actual increase or better reporting or treatment, the astounding fact is that 15% of current college students report having been diagnosed with depression sometime in their lives. Some make an argument that today’s adolescents have been over-medicated. From my perspective it is undeniable that navigating the path to adulthood is stressful and debilitating. With less stable social support and capitol college students need a few attentive adults paying close attention.

The audio clips included in this piece are intriguing.