College undergrads inundate Miami Beach each year for spring break, but this year the city is waving a white flag, crying "Nay, too much ruckus!" In the first two weeks there were countless fights, motorist serving drinks to passengers in another vehicle, and one woman died as she fell from the window of a moving car. The city spent $1.5 million on police protection and $30,000 on a marketing campaign advising students to "choose their bars wisely," as one sign featuring a jail cell warns.*
Of course, not every spring break involves boozing at the beach with thousands of teenagers. Some college-aged young adults do service trips, travel to improve their language skills, or work. If that's your reality, congratulations! But for those parents who are being lobbied to say "yea" to a beach hullabaloo, what do you say when the subject is raised?
"No", said praying college mom Laura, when her daughter asked to go to Florida with her friends. "It's not a good place to be for the sake of her purity," she said. Although Laura hates confrontation, she advised that parents need to "risk them not liking you sometimes" and make the hard parenting decision. Her daughter didn't push back, Laura said, because the family has had a longstanding policy of "no spring breaks."
"I think I just trusted her," Terry told me when her junior asked to go Miami last year. "At 20 years old, what's she going to do on spring break that she's not doing in college?" she said. Terry's husband and older son encouraged her to trust her daughter. "You have to know your kid," Terry says. This year, Terry's daughter wants to come to her grandfather's Florida home for spring break claiming she has no interest in the party scene and wants to sit by the beach and enjoy her family.
"We tried to encourage other options," says Tracy, "and we didn't give our blessing but our daughter went anyway during her junior year. She had a terrible time...rain, stomach virus, lost her phone...she missed most of the parties," Tracy explained. "She ended up speaking with us about how she regretted the decision to go, and wished that she had listened to our cautionary advice," Tracy added.
Whether you say "yea" or "nay" to spring break, difficult parenting decisions are made easier when we lean on our faith. What does the Lord say is due to the parents of college-age young adults? We need look no further than the fourth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). By the fourth commandment, God asks (commands) children to respect and obey parents in all that is not sinful, and to help them when they are in need. The fourth commandment also forbids disrespect, unkindness, and disobedience toward parents and lawful superiors. “Cursed be anyone who dishonors father or mother” (Deuteronomy 27:16).
Respect, obedience, kindness—these are rights as parents because of our inherent dignity as children of God, but also because we provide for the spiritual and temporal welfare of our children. So we stand on solid footing when we ask that our children abide our decisions. We can't guarantee that they will always listen, but that's where the power of prayer comes in...ours and those prayers of Praying College Moms everywhere.
* sources: Miami Herald, USA Today, Fox News
*names were changed