Law school, more often than not, is a life altering experience. This is true not only for the student but also the loved ones around them, especially their parents. While I think my parents are incredibly supportive, here’s a list I still wish I could have given them when I started law school.
Know What Challenges Your Child Faces:
Law school is much different than college. For example, I never took a class before law school where the only thing I was graded on was how well I performed on a three-hour final.
It’s difficult for a parent to truly understand the amount of work each class requires, especially if you didn’t go to law school yourself and it’s likely that sleep deprivation and high levels of stress will consume each student from their first day of orientation to their last final. Be understanding of the fact that sometimes your child is dealing with some high-level stress and won’t be able to make dinner on Sunday or have time for you to come visit. They’re trying to learn how to effectively think like a lawyer and understand exactly what is required for diversity jurisdiction at the same time.
Additionally, many schools, like mine, offered a seminar for parents to attend in the beginning of the year to try and help them get an idea of what obstacles their child faces. Take advantage of this if you’re in the area! However, if your child’s school doesn’t offer this and you’re really curious as to what kind of journey your child is about to embark on read any blog post or podcast on this site!
I promise you don’t need to put any pressure on your kid to succeed because we’ve already put enough pressure on ourselves. If their attitude has changed or they’re communication has gone from frequent to rare, just be patient, things will get better/ go back to normal even if it doesn’t happen until winter break. However, if you sense a huge change in your child’s mood or they seem more depressed, make sure they’re aware that it’s ok to seek help via counseling or by connecting with someone at their student services office. Mental health is a key to succeeding in law school.
Don’t Let Them Think Struggling Is a Bad Thing
Since the majority of law students haven’t struggled academically, law school can be quite the change and could lead to self-doubt. While you want to comfort and assure your child that they are doing just fine, don’t let them think that because they are struggling means they should quit. Struggling means they are learning and growing both as a student and a future lawyer. While grades matter to some extent, it’s much more about the process than just the end result.
Identify Ways You Can Help
Helping out your child could come in monetary form- like sending money for food or paying for a laundry service. Other invaluable ways include simply sending a text to tell your child to just say hello and that you’re thinking of them or making them a meal and dropping it off. For example, my peer had been telling her mom how hard it was for her to carry all her books to school since her apartment was within walking distance to campus and she couldn’t justify using her limited funds to pay for a parking pass. The next day, her mom surprised her and bought her one. Another friend’s mom made her son an “Easy Things to Cook While Studying” guide for his crockpot, which made it easy for him to not worry as much about food. Little things can make all the difference when it comes to easing burdens or helping us save time.
No matter your level of education (even if you’re a partner at a top law firm), sometimes your advice won’t help and your child will just want to talk to someone who will listen. I remember one rainy day in November, I called my dad to complain about a professor and what I thought was a particularly harsh cold call and instead of him asking why I was being so negative or telling me just to try and do better next time, he just listened and, in my opinion, it was the best thing he could have done. It’s possible sometimes your child will just need to vent and you can be the person on the receiving end.
In conclusion, having a child in law school is much different than having a child in college. While this advice is something I’d give my parents to follow, it’s very subjective and you should tailor this advice to your child’s character traits. Lastly, if all else fails, just tell them you’re proud of them- sometimes it’s all we need to hear.
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Other helpful posts:
- A Student’s Perspective: The First Week of Law School
- The People You Will Meet in Law School
- Want to Get Good Law School Grades? Become a Self-Starter
- How to Think Like a Successful Law Student
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