Tag Archives: college

Why College Is Harder than It Even Should Be for Our Kids

When I was in college I spent countless hours on the floor in my room of the sorority house pecking out my English paper on a Brother Word Processor. Only one girl in the house had a desktop computer, so for the majority at that time Brothers were the best thing going. Inevitably though in the wee hours of the night before the paper was due is when the cartridge ribbon ran dry. This meant running to the office supply store at daybreak and then very carefully (under the gun of a ticking clock) finish typing. But you better not make a mistake!

If you also had a word processor you know a mistake meant potentially retyping the page from the top. This was because the word processor had no delete button. Instead it required backspacing to the error and hoping the correction tape hit in just the right spot. White Out was an option too (do they even still make that?), but an exact realignment of the type guide after the error was still needed to keep going without restarting.

How nice it would’ve been to carry around a laptop in our backpacks. No cords even restricting work to our rooms. This would’ve been especially great on those nights my room (located right at the top of the stairs) was full of friends watching Friends and I had a paper to do. But then when I wanted to stay in my room because it was too cold or rainy how awesome to have had WiFi and Google and not have to trek over to the library for research!

Thinking about these things now as “hardships” makes me laugh. It’s all we knew so it was just what we did. But somewhere along the way grit has gone by the wayside. Today when the going gets tough, many college kids can’t cope as evidenced by university counseling centers nationwide struggling to keep up with the demand for mental health services.

Now I do think college students are under way more pressure today – thanks to our culture of comparison and standard of perfection. So it is not that I don’t think college is hard (even if the technological changes make life easier). COLLEGE IS HARD. But I’m afraid we haven’t prepared our kids as well as we could for the reality that not only is college hard, but life is hard.

I know there are ways I accommodated our daughter to make her life easier and less stressful. My intention to help came out of love, but I wonder now if my helping became enabling?

One friend described the two like this:

 “Helping is doing for someone what he is not capable of doing himself; enabling is doing for him things he could or should do himself.”

By not requiring our children to do chores or to sacrifice their time and desires for the good of the family, we allow them to live self-centered. In catering to their every whim, we foster an attitude of entitlement. When we swoop in to rescue them from consequences and never allow them to fail, we leave them ill-equipped to handle adversity on their own.

This is not setting our kids up to be college ready!

Instead we need to teach them to deal with adversity, to see the world does not revolve around them and things are not always easy. So next time you are tempted to take things into your own hands by emailing the teacher/coach, calling the school or gossiping with other parents, encourage your child instead in how to handle the conflict on their own. This may mean for them a difficult conversation with a friend, teacher or coach. It may mean you helping them accept second string. Or it may mean backing the teacher for giving them a late grade (even a zero) if work wasn’t turned in on time. But I firmly believe what they will gain is for their greater good.

To raise kids prepared for adulthood, we must rethink what we’re doing to get them there. Because honestly, shielding our kids from hardship and responsibility, not holding them accountable and allowing them every indulgence is not real life. Real life is hard. College is hard. Relationships are hard. Work is hard. Let’s start doing the hard thing this school year and give them proper training ground while in the safety of the nest.

Did you miss the other two posts in this mini college-related series? Check them out here: Your Identity is Not in Your Greek Letters
Embracing a New Normal After a Child Leaves for College

Your Identity is Not In Your Greek Letters

This time last year when my first-born was heading to college for the first time I was consumed with what life would look like without her home, her own transitioning and sorority recruitment. I know there are countless others parents and students out there who feel this same anxiety now as I did then. So today I am starting a three-post series related to college – for the student & parent.

I’m kicking it off by rerunning an edited version of a popular post from last August as a reminder of where our true identity is found. While sorority recruitment and looking to Greek letters for an identity may not have anything to do with you, we all turn to false sources looking for worth. So I hope no matter what stage of life you’re in you’ll read on and share if you think others will also benefit…

With Sorority Recruitment soon taking place on college campuses, college girls, moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends and by default dads, brothers and grandfathers will engage in enough conversation about it to last a life time.  I know this from experience last year when my daughter went through the exhausting process leading up to Bid Day. In fact, if I could’ve logged hours and been paid for all the time I spent thinking and talking about Rush, it would’ve been a fruitful week.  As it was, a very unproductive week because of the all-consuming nature of the beast that had me digging deeper.

But the “beast” is maybe not what you think. I am not writing to offer a better way for sororities to recruit new members. Though there certainly are flaws, beautiful stories come out of sorority recruitment too – such as the new friend my daughter connected with over a conversation about her tattoo. What the “beast” has more to do with (in my opinion) is our own hearts, and what we think those two or three Greek letters say.

Too often for those of us affiliated with a sorority, the Greek letters we wear become who we are- how we identify ourselves. Where we find our worth. Likewise, we base others’ worth on how we view their particular “house.” So if we are honest, I believe this plays into one of the many reasons girls, their moms and entourage become obsessed with Rush.

For many of you, it may seem this post doesn’t relate to you because you weren’t in a sorority or your daughter is nowhere near college age. I want to challenge us though to see how in various ways we all try to find our worth in something that wasn’t meant to define us. It may be your profession, where your kids go to school, what zipcode you live in, or your specific neighborhood, where you shop or vacation, what kind of car you drive, what clubs you are involved in, where you go to church, what social events you attend, who your friends are, who your spouse is, how good a parent you are, how well your kids behave and on and on.

None of these things determine your worth. Only God can. Why then do we mistakenly base how we feel about ourselves, for better or worse, on such temporal things?

I believe it goes back to the soul hole I’ve written about before: The longing we have to know we are deemed accepted and valued. So we go on a quest of trying to stuff our soul hole with things we think will satisfy us and give us worth. And while some may seem to work for a time, eventually we need something bigger, something more.

Until we discover God is the only something bigger and something more who can make us whole, we will keep turning to false things to give us the identity we long for. On the other hand, to rest in our true identity is to know we are God’s most treasured possession, created in his image and bestowed with inifinte worth.

For a little while God made even his son stoop beneath us, sending Jesus to serve us by living the perfect life we could never achieve and then dying sacrificially. Both done on our behalf so God could welcome us as sons and daughter for all eternity. 

Because Jesus did the work, God can now say to us, Child, you are accepted. You are mine. Not because you earned your place or did anythig to deserve my namesake, but it was my good pleasure. What I give to you is your most sure identity that nothing or no one can take away.”

  • What if we lived like this is true?
  • How would that change the way we think about ourselves and others? No matter what we (or they) have or don’t have. 

College friends, you are not your Greek letters. You are so much more. And your neighbor – she, too, is so much more than what her Greek letters or non-affliation says.

Adult women and men, you too. Your identity is not based on what the world says is worthy. Find rest in knowing your worth is secure in the One who went to the cross in order to say, “It is finished.”

“Finished for YOU, my child who I loved to the grave and back, for all eternity.”

Now Dear College Freshman, may you go off to college and even through Rush be free of yourself because you know you are freely loved and full of worth!


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