Exclusive AMA w/ Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen & Raise Independent Adults

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month through their platforms. The heartbeat of their community is the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group, with over 172,000 members, and one of the most engaged groups on the platform.

Together, Lisa and Mary Dell are the authors of *Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults now in paperback. The book has been praised by the likes of Katie Couric, “I highly recommend Grown & Flown!..” and by Dr. Adam Weinberg, President of Denison University, “As a college president, I hope every parent will read this book and use it as a guide for interacting with and guiding their children,” among others.

Mary Dell graduated from the University of Texas Austin and has her MBA from the Harvard Business School. Lisa graduated from UC San Diego and has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Their work has been featured in numerous publications, and they were named by People magazine as 25 Women Changing the World.

@Grown_And_Flown will answer your questions about parenting teens through a global pandemic and cover topics including:

  • When should you start the college conversation with your teens?
  • How can parents support teens through their junior year?
  • What resources can parents and students use to help with the college search?
  • How can students differentiate themselves on their applications now that test scores and extracurriculars are not available to many students?
  • How can parents support teens who are stressed? Or, barely speaking to them?
  • What are the parental “Do’s and Don’ts” when teens leave for college?

Ask them anything.

Hey everyone, this is Mary Dell and Lisa, so happy to be here. We are Grown and Flown and thrilled to talk to you about raising teens and the transition to college. Let us know what’s on your mind.

@GrownAndFlown, what do you recommend doing about a student who is very strong academically but “doesn’t want to talk about college”? This is a HS junior who acts like she doesn’t want to attend college or even discuss it. Should someone else talk to her? Should the subject just be dropped?

Does the school where she is a student have a program that helps students begin to think about college? At many high schools, that begins in the spring semester of junior year. Letting the school lead students can be so helpful if it exists at her school. It can be so overwhelming for teens to imagine themselves moving on from all they know and love - family, friends, school - that not dealing with it is not uncommon. Are you familiar with new book, The College Conversation? Eric J Furda (U Penn Dean of Admissions) and Jacques Steinberg are co-authors. It is an excellent resource for parents and it might help you think of ways to begin the conversation about college.

My son was like that. In late spring of junior year I told him it was fine by me if he didn’t go to college (he was a high achiever academically) and work. I meant it. I went out for awhile and when I came back he had a color coded chart for college visits!

Sometimes the reluctance is avoidance because the transition is so hard to contemplate.

@GrownAndFlown, lots of recent college grads are living at home. Some don’t have jobs, yet many do. The jobs aren’t in offices right now and paying rent to be in a largely shutdown metropolis (working remotely) doesn’t make sense, especially because many of these jobs may not be particularly secure. A different version of this is playing out for families with college students who are at home taking remote classes.

Every parent I know in this situation is delighted to have the time with their child, and every one of them is similarly crushed that their kids aren’t getting their independence. What advice can you give to parents to help families navigate this time of stalled launches?