By: Andrea Moore
As a parent, I continuously find myself telling my daughters “you can do that when you get older”. In addition, when my stepdaughter lived with me and my husband I remember telling her “when you get on your own you are going to have to…”, many times. Furthermore, I can remember my mother saying the same thing to me, and I am sure her mother gave her similar advice during her adolescent years. However, I am not sure I realized how true their statements were until I actually struck out on my own, specifically by matriculating to college some 14 hours away from my home.
For many graduating seniors that decide to go off to college, they soon find that their lives change almost as soon as their parents drive off from their college dorm rooms. They soon learn there is no one to wake them up for class, restock the bathroom toilet paper, or ensure they have clean underwear or shirts for class. In addition, college youth instantly experience new situations never before encountered requiring them to make quick decisions based on what they were taught growing up. For example, my daughter just returned home from her first winter break at college. During a car ride with her friends I heard them talk about the issues they were having in college. Some of the girls talked about how their roommates used their personal items without asking, the fact that they could smell marijuana in the dorm halls, or drunk roommates that they had to get home safely.
Truthfully, hearing these stories from my 19 year old college daughter initially scared me, and I thought, “ohh no, she is definitely transferring back home”. However, I soon thought back to my college days where I experienced the hardships of having no money for food (because I had an apartment and didn’t opt for the meal plan. Bad, bad, bad idea), having to navigate a small town bus system that closes down at 9 pm, and of course the drunk roommates always requiring your attention. Subsequently, instead of providing negative feedback to the young women, I remained silent and listened.
As a parent, I have spent 18 years providing my daughter guidance, training, and instruction on the right way to respond to different situations. Well, now it’s time for her to take center stage and present her personal story to the world. Will it be the exact script that I approve? Will she even know the exact story for herself? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, the story will be hers to plan and execute on her own. Of course she will always have her parents, other family, friends, professors, mentors, etc. to help impart wisdom and assistance, but she will ultimately have to make the final determinations alone.
However, as I heard the girls discuss instances like finding transportation to places without a vehicle, handling school financial obligations without their parents, and/or making sure they budgeted their finances appropriately, my thoughts eased greatly. I heard them discuss adjusting plans due to financial restrictions, planning roommate meetings to discuss problems within the group, and methods to secure more scholarships or take additional classes to graduate early. This made me realize that hey, our young people are listening, they are learning, and they are making great decisions for the future.