How Can We Talk This Through?


Judy Moseman suggests ways to talk to parents when school preferences differ.

Q: My parents and I have a pretty good relationship, and they've helped a lot with my college search. Recently, I learned about a Christian college I'm really, really interested in. Unfortunately, this college isn't one of our denominational schools. Our denomination has always been important to my parents, but it doesn't really matter to me. I like going to youth group at different churches in our area, and I've learned good things from all of them. I want to respect my parents, but I'd also like a little more freedom to make my own choice. How can I talk to them about this?
A: Try to view this discussion with your parents as an opportunity to show respect for them and to demonstrate that you're becoming a responsible adult.
To prepare yourself for a conversation with your mom and dad, start doing some research about this college you're interested in. Pay special attention to areas of college life that are important to your parents or similar to the denominational schools they like. Some examples could include academic quality, lifestyle expectations, theological positions and cost. Be prepared to explain how you will handle any significant differences you may discover. For example, let's say the denominational schools have very strict codes of conduct and the school you're interested in does not. You'll need to think through what to say about the differences and about your own personal commitment to certain behavioral standards. Then ask your parents for a time to talk together about what you are learning. Encourage them to join you on a visit to the school you're interested in. Let them see for themselves why you like the school so much. Also, offer to go with them to visit the campus of one of the denominational schools. After both visits, the three of you can sit down and compare the strengths and weaknesses of each school.
You might take these visits and discover that a denominational school is the right place. If this doesn't happen, then explain your continued interest in the school that's outside your denomination. As you lay out your case for the school, do so respectfully and in a way that shows you are carefully considering your parents' opinions. The more you behave as a mature adult, the more confidence they will have in your ability to make good choices based on your faith and your family's values. 
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