Dear Harlan,

I work for a university in the admissions office. Can you please, please, PLEASE tell the moms to quit calling us with their kids sitting on the couch beside them. If the child is old enough to go to college, he or she is old enough to make the phone call. I know it is hard to let go, but please tell parents letting go is a sign that they have done a good job, and that their child is ready to go out on his or her own.

Let Go

Dear Let Go,

You just told them. Parents don’t need to let go — they just need to loosen the grip. You know why they call with their kids sitting next to them on the couch? They believe they are being helpful, supportive and loving. They’re used to doing it this way. Their kids don’t stop them. Parents don’t stop themselves. Some of them never stop calling. They call every morning to make sure the kids are up for class. They call college professors when their kids are sick. They even call employers and ask if their kid got a job (yes, this happens). It’s OUT OF CONTROL! As a parent of a 7-year-old daughter, 5-year-old son and a baby on the way (yes, we are crazy), I know how much parents want their kids to be comfortable. But as an expert who has visited more than 400 college campuses, I also know that students are struggling to deal with the uncomfortable parts of life. When I was in college, I couldn’t text, email and call my parents at will. I had to plan it. Today’s college students are never out of touch with their parents. Technology makes it possible for kids to continue to ask their parents to say it and do it for them. For those parents who want to help their kids become self-advocates, here’s a suggestion. When your kid asks for help, let them do the talking. Help them find the name, number and department, but they need to do the talking and calling. If they don’t want to do it, then let them struggle. When they email, text or call, do not fix the problem — ask them what they can do. Ask them who they think they should call for help. Direct them, but let them say it and do it. Fixing it for them just means they will break later in life when you’re not around. Life can be uncomfortable at times. It should be. It’s how we learn. Give them room to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Dear Harlan,

I’ve been on a few dates with a guy I really like. I can tell that he’s interested in taking things to another level sexually. I’m not one to jump into bed. What is the best way to tell a guy I’m not interested in having sex so soon without scaring him off?

Waiting

Dear Waiting,

A bad time to tell him is at 3 a.m. when he’s drunk with his pants around his ankles. A better time is during daylight hours when you are both sober and clothed. Tell him there are some things you save for a serious relationship. Sex is one of them. Tell him you just wanted to be honest. And remind him how much you enjoy spending time with him. If the truth scares him, find another man.

Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author.

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