Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page.

Having had no fewer than 12 students (male and female) sob in my office in the past three weeks, this is a public service announcement to all my friends out there who have just sent or are soon to send their kids to college . . . 

Most of you know that I serve as an academic advisor at a major university. It puts me in the unique position of witnessing firsthand a lot of what most of you only speculate about higher ed and the college experience today.

I am here to tell you that it is NOT the same as when we went to school, and that is for a variety of reasons.

In my mind, it is a perfect storm of (1) high schools engaging in massive grade inflation and not fully preparing our kids for what lies ahead; (2) our generation’s over-involved, fix-it style of parenting; and (3) social media/technology and the strange dichotomy of these platforms meant to connect us that often do just the opposite.

I went to a recent training on this generation, termed GenZ, yet also depressingly termed “the loneliest generation”. Record numbers of students are facing anxiety, depression, mental health issues, and suicide ideations on campuses ill-equipped to deal with the sheer volume. Regardless of our own opinions about how “real” this epidemic is, I am here to tell you that our opinion doesn’t matter – because it is real to OUR KIDS.

So what can you do for them while they are away, be it down the road or across the country?

Do not text your child hourly. Or even daily. Let them set the tone. And if you don’t hear from them, don’t panic! That’s a good thing! And it’s OK NOT to answer occasionally or immediately. Also, do not get roped into negativity and complaining via text either. If they want to vent, have them call. Or tell them to go see their advisor. This is why I have had 12 people crying in my office thus far. It’s a safe space.

Your child needs to find those safe spaces wherever they are. Remember when you were away at school and had an issue, what did you do? You talked to roommates and friends. Or yourself. You figured it out. THEN you might have told your parents. Or not.

Your children need to learn how to solve problems on their own. You jumping on their school’s website and finding everything for them might be helpful in the short term but I can tell you that it leads to total paralysis day-to-day and most especially when they go to find an internship or a job and have not developed any of those professional competencies yet. If they ask you for help, your answer should be, “Why don’t you ask your advisor.” That is why we are here! You would not believe the random questions I get . . . and they make me laugh and I am happy to get them because it means they aren’t asking you.

PLEASE get off the parent pages of your children’s universities, or use them only as a means to get very basic information, or just for a laugh. Engaging in lengthy conversations with other parents complaining about X,Y, and Z at your child’s institution and then passing that along to your child does nothing but make them more anxious in feeling like you don’t trust them to navigate things on their own and also that their privacy is being violated.

Encourage them to join clubs and professional societies. It is far more likely that they will find “their people” there than in their dorm, and joining things is all part of the personal growth curve in college.

Many of your kids didn’t have to work that hard in high school and did well. Not so now. Tell them to treat college like a job with a 40+ hour work week. They can play hard but need to work hard to earn the playing part.

Tell them to get help before they think they actually need it to avoid the unenviable spiral downward. Use all the resources—academic and otherwise—that their universities have to offer.

Time management is the single biggest factor in a student’s success, in my book. Tell them to schedule their downtime just as they do their classes and allow themselves to totally check out from academics with whatever activities bring them joy and balance instead of stressing out about what they should be doing. This prevents what I like to call “going down the rabbit hole of no return” where they become so overwhelmed that all they do is sleep and skip class because they don’t even know where to start to get caught up and engaged.

Tell them to be open to new knowledge, new experiences and new people, to not trust their first judgments of people/situations, to not make assumptions. It is important that they push themselves outside their comfort zone from time to time to avoid complacency. Being off-balance is a good thing once in a while!

If they mess up, hold them accountable, and make them do the same. Cheating is a major issue on campuses for a reason. They can learn and grow from their missteps only if held accountable.

A lot of what I do on any given day is normalizing what a student perceives as failure. That is an important message for your child to receive. If they are really struggling, even failing—academically, socially, whatever—they need to know that others are as well, that it is short-term, that there are valuable things to be learned from those struggles. And don’t be afraid to share your own struggles with them!

And finally, did I mention the part about seeing their advisor?? Early. Often. They need to build that relationship. All of your campuses have strong advising resources, I have no doubt.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Priscilla Baker

Priscilla Baker is an undergraduate services coordinator/academic advisor and the mom to two college-aged kids.

Grieving the Death of an Estranged Family Member is Complicated

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman looking out at water

This past weekend, I learned that my estranged grandmother died. It had been a few years since I had spoken to her, and while I knew this day would come, I never exactly knew how I’d feel when the day actually arrived. Honestly, the moment I heard the news, I felt a bit of shock and didn’t know how to feel in that moment. Was I allowed to feel sadness or pain given that I had chosen to remove this family from my life? I felt so overwhelmed, I ended up googling “how to grieve the death of an estranged...

Keep Reading

There’s a Little Less of You Here Each Day

In: Grief, Grown Children
Elderly man and younger woman's arms around his neck

I’m sitting here on the front porch, and I’m sobbing. I’m finally grieving. I’ve finally reached the place where my heart knows what my brain has known for years. I am now dreaming of the day we meet again in Heaven, Dad, and you look at me and I will see in your eyes that you know it’s me: your daughter. I won’t be “the woman who comes by every day to our house” as you described me to Mom the other day. And this sucks. This early onset Alzheimer’s has stolen a brilliant mind. It’s stolen my mother’s dear...

Keep Reading

Our College Visit Disaster: What You Should Learn from My Mistakes

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen daughter selfie, color photo

With a song in my heart, I got in the car to drive my daughter to our first college visit.  We drove two hours to a school nestled in the mountains. It was a state school, not too big, not too small.  She knew plenty of alumni from her high school who attended there, and I was convinced it was going to be the perfect fit. We pulled up to the student center, and I jumped out of the car. I glanced around for her and realized she was still sitting in the car.  “Mom, I’m not getting out. I ...

Keep Reading

Everything I Know About Motherhood, I Learned from My Mom

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother and daughter walking down snowy path, color photo

I lay in a hospital bed, and the doctor placed my brand-new son into my arms. As I held him close and stared in wonder at this tiny new life, the gravity of being totally responsible for another person settled in with an enormous weight. I could hear my mom’s voice in my mind, “Support the head, hold him close, let him feel you breathe.” Words from my youth when she taught me how to comfort my crying baby cousin. The first lesson I had in taking care of a baby. When I brought my son home from the hospital,...

Keep Reading

I’ll Send You off with a Million Prayers

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen walking down sidewalk with suitcase, color photo

I think one of the hardest things about launching your big kids is wondering what baggage they will take with them. Did I give them enough for what comes next? Enough guidance? Enough wisdom Enough confidence and encouragement? Or will they end up carrying the weight of all of my mistakes? My exhaustion? My insecurities? My misplaced fears? What will they hold on to and what will they toss aside as they make room for new experiences, new people, new dreams? RELATED: My Mama Heart Breaks a Little Every Time You Go What lessons will they remember? What moments will...

Keep Reading

Dear Future Daughter-in-Law, I Hope We’ll Be Close

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Wedding preparation buttoning up dress

Dear future daughter-in-law, My son loves you enough to want to spend the rest of his life with you. That’s a big deal. But I hope you and I can have a relationship too. While I think he’s pretty terrific, I want to know all about you and to have a relationship of our own. I know you are more than his significant other—our relationship may be because of him, but it can also be separate from him. Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself, the woman my son fell in love with. I don’t want you to try to...

Keep Reading

My Mom Made It Look So Easy

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mom twirling little girl silhouette

I assumed I’d have turnkey kids. In my mind, I was a turnkey kid. I survived the toddler stage, complied at school, and learned how to earn favor from decision-makers that nodded in approval when I was developing on par.  From my perspective, parenting didn’t seem tricky. As easy as 1-2-3.  1. You have the kids. 2. You love the kids. 3. You send the kids to school where they learn life and social skills. This naivety followed me for an embarrassing number of years. I can do this, I thought. I can have kids, love them well, show them...

Keep Reading

Grandma’s Christmas Angels

In: Grown Children, Living
Little girl and grandma playing piano

My grandmother had quite a collection of Christmas angels. They were all different shapes and sizes. Some were plastic and some were very fragile—she must have had hundreds of them. Every Christmas, she would bring them out of storage from the attic and artistically design her living room to showcase each of them. The living room was always adorned with the Christmas spirit from floor to ceiling. Every Sunday in the month of December after church, she would always have an open door policy for people to walk through the display of angels. She would greet family and friends with hot...

Keep Reading

It’s Lonely As the Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Stressed woman on beach

You hear a lot about being mothered during your mothering season . . .  Calling your mom throughout the day to share your ups and downs.  Calling to hear a soothing voice to get you through your child’s tantrums.   Calling to ask your mom to come with you to doctor’s appointments you’re nervous about. You hear about how you now understand what your mom went through raising you as you’re raising your littles. But you don’t hear about the pain a girl feels who longs for a bond with her own mother.  You hear about people inviting their moms...

Keep Reading

She Wore Caesars Woman and It Smelled Like Love

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman with two children, color photo

They say the brain rewires itself to accommodate for losing one or more senses. A blind person develops great hearing, a deaf person great sight. Neither deaf nor blind, I have some loss of both. The result: a finely tuned sense of smell that intertwines with my memories and emotions. The aroma of cut grass transports me to summer. Cigarette smoke in the bathroom reminds me of my abusive grandfather. Loves Baby Soft powder scent embodies the year 1987. The pages of a book smell of escape. My grandmother’s perfume exudes love. Grandma Darleen shined like a beacon in an...

Keep Reading