Book review: 'The iConnected Parent' give tips to parenting college-aged kids

By Scott Livingston

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 23 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

"THE iCONNECTED PARENT: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up," by Barbara K. Hofer and Abigail Sullivan, Free Press, $25, 288 pages (nf)

In their new book "The iConnected Parent," co-authors Barbara Hofer and Abigal Moore attempt to help parents of college-aged children answer the daunting question of how connected they should stay as these children leave the nest. With terms like "helicopter parent" and "emerging adult" now a familiar part of our vernacular, the authors seek to guide parents in finding just the right balance between "just right" and "just too much." As the subtitle puts it, the challenge is "Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up."

In the era before the Internet, the authors point out this was a much more definable — and achievable — goal. By virtue of the fact that calling home by telephone was generally the sole form of communication between parents and their college-aged children, circumstances forced these young adults to often make decisions without parental involvement. Now that there are a myriad of ways to instantly communicate anything and everything and at any time, parents bear a far more delicate task of determining how to help their fledging children leave the nest. The clever photograph on the cover captures this dilemma well: It's of a bird's nest with a USB cable attached to the bottom.

Balancing their wise guidance using both anecdotes and the results of extensive research, Hofer and Moore walk a parent through the many bewildering questions that are a part of staying connected to children attending college. How often should I talk with my child? What should I ask them? When should I step in if they're in trouble with classes, finances or relationships? What should they pay for and what should I pay for? The fundamental question underlying all of these other questions is this: How do I stay connected while still allowing my son or daughter to successfully grow up?

"The iConnected Parent" does an excellent job of answering these and may other important questions parents have. This paragraph from the first chapter puts it best: "There are ways to successfully navigate this world of close connections, to help young people get the most out of college, grow into competent adults, and feel authentically good about themselves and their parents. That is what this book is about."

Every parent wants to feel confident that they are balancing the need to stay connected with the equally important need to help their "emerging adult" children achieve independence. For parents struggling to figure out how to accomplish this, "The iConnected Parent" is exactly the right book at exactly the right time.

Scott Livingston is a full-time writer living in American Fork, Utah. He has two college-attending children, both of whom know much more than he does. At least that's what they keep telling him. On Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.

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