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Column: College kids and saying no
by Lauretta Hannon
May 23, 2013 06:16 PM | 14867 views | 0 0 comments | 75 75 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: An old acquaintance from high school will be moving to my neck of the woods soon and has asked to stay with me for a few days, along with her two dogs, while she looks for a place to live. Based on some of her recent Facebook posts, I’m thinking this is not a good idea. Any suggestions for a response that communicates a firm “no” in a nice way?

A: Keep it simple and declarative. I’d say something along the lines of “that won’t work for you to stay with me, but there are some nice pet-friendly hotels in the area…I’ll be happy to send you some information.”

Don’t stammer or apologize or go into any sort of explanation as to why she can’t stay with you. But if she does ask at some point, I’d tell her the truth.

Q: What are some ways to get college students, especially boys, to stay in touch with parents? What is a good, normal communication schedule with first- and second-year college students? I have kids who text rather than call, which is not how I pictured it might be. Should I put up with the texting or push for more, like Skype or calls? (I should note that I raised them to be super-independent. This might be partially my fault.)

A: How to get freshman guys to stay in touch? Take away their beer money.

But seriously, several thoughts come to mind.

-You’ve taught them to be independent, and now that they are exploring some new-found freedom, it’s a problem. I loathe texting but relent with certain people who just don’t communicate any other way. Be glad they are texting on a regular basis, and examine your own issues around their transition into adulthood.

-I do think it’s fair to make some maternal demands such as a weekly phone call. If they resist, I’d add an incentive. Try something like this, “I won’t be depositing your textbook funds (i.e., the aforementioned beer money) until you call me on Sunday.” They owe you a modicum of respect and obedience, and if they are financially dependent, you have a heap of negotiating power.

-Remember they are just behaving like healthy college students. And look at it this way: You’ve raised young men rather than mama’s boys. Kudos to you!

Q: I work 12 or 13 hours a day to make a nice living for my family. As a single mom, this is a huge juggling act. I don’t think my kids appreciate all that I’m doing for them. They certainly don’t understand how much of a struggle it is for me. Instead they just whine about never seeing me. Why don’t they get it?

A: Darlin’, you’re the one not getting it. Stop working those ridiculous hours and devote time to those kids. It won’t kill them to lose a few luxuries in return for having their mother around. I suspect you’ve been slaving away for so long that you’ve lost sight of what matters.

Ironically, your money-making mission has left your family impoverished. You can’t afford to keep living this way because what is most valuable here can’t be bought.

Your kids are suffering. Fix it now or spend the rest of your life paying for it.

Send your questions to

Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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