Many parents are very familiar with parent child contracts and behavior contracts but parent child college contracts are not as well known. For parents that have used parent child contracts throughout the child and teenage years, a parent child college contract may be especially beneficial. The best part about using a parent child contract is that it is very specific and individualized to meet the exact circumstances, personalities, and goals of each individual. For younger children a parent child contract or behavior contract may be used to teach a child about choice and accountability and consequences for one’s actions. During the teenage years a family or even each individual may use several very specific contracts to address certain issues: grades, dating, driving, or a teen cell phone contract are just a few of the most common parent contracts.
Looking at examples of parents contracts is a great way for parents to get an idea of how to construct one and how to personalize and enforce the contract to create a successful experience for all those that are involved. College is an especially important part of any young adults life, it is also a time when things can go very, wrong very fast. A teenager leaving home for the first time, having sudden and complete freedom, may not make the best choices for his/her future. Some parents have a “live and learn” attitude and believe that whatever experiences their child has will teach them life lessons and be for their own good. Other parents have a rather large vested interest in their child having a successful college career. If a parent is paying tuition, buying books, paying fees, living expenses, etc. they have a right to expect certain behavior from their child.
Circumstances like these are when a parent child college contract can be especially useful and beneficial. Some may feel that this will be taking away the child’s freedom and alter the process of him/her learning to be an independent/responsible adult. Others argue that such parent child college contracts give the child just enough direction to keep the child headed in the right direction, without controlling their life or preventing them from making their own choices. As with any parent contract, a parent child college contract should be very specific.
The contract should include a list of expected behaviors, this may include grades, jobs, study habits, class attendance, etc. The contract should also include what the child can expect in return, for all grades above a C, tuition will be paid at 100%. For C grades tuition will be paid at 50% and anything below a C will not be paid at all. Books, fees, and housing will be paid as long as attendance requirements are met and assignments are completed. Whatever the stipulations are, make them very specific about what is expected and what the direct consequence is for any part of the contract that is not met.
Using a parent child college contract is no guarantee that everything will work out exactly the way a parent expects it to but it does let both parties know exactly what is expected and helps establish some ground rules for what consequences will happen as a result of specific behaviors. This also eliminates trying to enforce some type of consequence after the fact, when both parties are arguing that the other knew what was expected and that the consequence is not fair. Anything that can be discussed before hand will be helpful in achieving results that both parties are happy with and can live with. Such a contract can also prevent a lot of blame and hard feelings later in life if a parent refuses to pay for future college classes because of bad grades and the child then blames the parent for ruining his/her chances of having a better life.