From the Executive Director
Back to Basics


Our students will be returning home for the holidays, so it is a good time for parents to think about how we communicate with our kids. In most cases, communication between George Fox parents and their students has gone well this semester, but it can always get even better.

Most likely, there will be a lot of exciting things your student will want to talk about and process with you. During fall semester they have had successes and failures, and they have learned a lot. Now, they are coming home! Whether your student is a first-year student, or well down the college road, I’m sure you will notice growth and maybe hear some surprising revelations! Here are some practical reminders and tips for good communication:

1. Even though it’s a busy season, be available to your student. Don’t hesitate to initiate conversation with them.
2. Be a good listener. Express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive. Listen to their point of view, even if it is difficult to hear, and let them complete their point before you respond. Resist the temptation to lecture.
3. Express your opinions without putting down their opinions; acknowledge that it’s OK to disagree.
4. Focus on your student’s feelings rather than your own during the conversation.
5. Ask them what they want or need from you in a conversation. Do they want advice, help solving a problem, help sorting their feelings, or do they just want you to listen?
6. When you are invited to explore solutions with them, encourage them to solve their own problems whenever they possibly can. Resist stepping in to solve their problems unless they are emotionally or physically unable.
7. My favorite tip is this: assume that you can learn as much or more from your student as they can learn from you. Mutual respect builds a strong relationship.

One of my favorite resources for college parents is a book by Marjorie Savage called You're on Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years. You can find it at Amazon.com for under $11. I believe that the healthy mentoring habits we develop with our students during the college years serve us well throughout our entire adult relationships with our children.

I am confident that you will enjoy quality family time and great conversations with your student this holiday season. May the Lord richly bless you as you celebrate the birth of our Savior and ring in the New Year!

Sheri Philips
Executive Director of University Relations