I was a complete and total angel when I was a college student. And of course I would stretch the truth about other things as well. The truth is that I completely washed one semester at Texas Tech as I pursued my undergraduate degree. That event was not set in motion by angelic behavior.
This week a long time friend had to endure his daughter making some choices both educationally and relationally that are probably not going to enhance her future. She is a bright girl with a good future. During the 2010-2011 academic year she attended a highly specialized school that is not easy to gain admission to. But this past week she announced to her parents that she is not going to go back in August. She is going to move several states away, so she can be with a boyfriend she met in high school. Needless to say mom and dad are thrilled.
How can you help a friend when they find themselves in a parental predicament of this nature? As I heard the story unfold, I really worked at engaging my listening skills. I readily admit that I didn’t have any simple answers to offer. But I did know from experience that there are a few things that my friend and fellow parent did not need to hear this week. And he really should not hear these things next week either!
• He does not to hear about my perfect children. You know the type… They are making a 4.0 grade point average, working in an internship that will lead to a successful career, and dining at the White House this summer at a “Most Likely to Succeed Banquet” held by The President and First Lady. I occasionally hear such stories. They are generally shared when or more of my boys are struggling in some facet of their life. And quite frankly I just don’t find it be helpful. If you want to elevate your kids to sainthood, do it out of the presence of a struggling parent.
• He does not to hear that It is all going to work out. Is it now? Do you know that for a fact? I would advise against making such sweeping statements, because things may get worse before they get better. Sometimes it takes years for life lessons to be learned. Your friend’s child is unique. He may bounce back quickly from a string of poor choices. But that is not always the case. Don’t make promises in areas that you have no control.
• He needs to know that you are loyal. Your friend needs to know that you are going to walk with him when he is ready to eradicate all boyfriends from the face of the earth. He needs a sounding board and an encourager.
• He needs to know that you love his child. How I appreciate people who have loved my kids from the time they were very small. And they still love them today. Expressing unconditional love for the children of those you love is one of the best gifts of friendship.
Summertime is here. It is a time of transition for college kids everywhere. Some will go to summer school. (I have one taking Spanish all summer.) Others will work at a variety of part-time jobs. And still others will make foolish choices that will impede their education. Hang in there with the parents of those kids. They need you, because their sanity is hanging in the balance!