Late summer signals "back to school" and often leaves me feeling melancholy. How about you? Did you just drop your student off at college? Back home, are you staring at an empty room and wondering/worrying about how they're adjusting to those first few weeks of college?
As we know, the days following orientation can be tricky and sometimes downright dangerous for coeds trying to negotiate the college social scene, the rapid-fire pace of college academics, and their own first taste of independence. At one of my child's orientations, a professor spoke candidly about drinking excesses he observed among the uninitiated. His warning left me quaking in my flip flops!
Whether our college coeds are nearby or thousands of miles away, reaching out to them (especially our freshmen) in these first few hectic weeks might anchor them at the very moment they feel rudderless. We want them to know how much they are loved, right? So, WHAT we say and HOW we say it should communicate our loving care for them. Let's ask ourselves some questions before we pick up the phone, text, or visit.
1) Am I praying every morning so that my confidence in Our Lord inspires my conversation?
2) Before I ask any "hot button" questions (Are you going to Mass? Are you getting any sleep? etc, etc...) am I able to inquire with a cheerful, calm sincerity rooted in a heart full of love for him/her? Or am I projecting sadness, worry, or disappointment onto my child, because that's how I'm feeling?
3) What kind of non-threatening topics can I broach to show my genuine interest in his/her college experience?
4) Am I showing confidence in my child by the tone of my voice and the type of questions I ask?
5) How can I work in a few compliments during the conversation?
6) What can I share about life back home that will truly interest him/her?
For those of us who feel called to check in frequently with our children during the first few weeks of college, the concept of love bombing provides a good rule of thumb. In the most positive sense, love bombing suggests that we have five sincere, positive, affirming conversations with our child before we allow ourselves to ask a "hot button" question. The 5-t0-1 ratio isn't as important as our efforts as mothers to leave our fears with the Lord and approach our children in a consistently balanced, peaceful and joyful way.
If you're a Praying College Mom who's whistling a happy tune these days, God bless you. If you're feeling blue, however, it can be hard to stay cheerful, especially if you don't like what you're hearing from your children when you talk to them. Remember, Our Lord tells us, "Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10. Allow Him to take you by the hand and sanctify you so that every interaction with your child bears fruit.
PS. As bridge-builders for Christ, may I encourage you to share our new book, And So We Pray: Guidance for Moms with College-Aged Young Adults, with at least one other mom-of-a-college-student this week?