Going off to college is one of the most exciting times for a young adult. Between the newfound freedom, undiscovered opportunities and abundance of new people, your child is sure to have the best four years of his or her life.
Joining Greek life can be an amazing part of your child’s four year undergraduate career.
With new opportunities comes the new responsibility to make the right decisions and learn from mistakes. But since college students are still young and often inexperienced in making independent decisions, it is your job as a parent to help guide them in the right direction. Is your college-bound student interested in Greek life? What do conversations have you had with your child now that he or she wants to join a fraternity or sorority? Especially in light of recent events in Greek life in colleges around the nation.
There may be a number of questions that may run through your head when and if your child is interested in Greek life. Upon learning your child wants to rush a fraternity or sorority these could include:
- How do you balance your child’s eagerness to fully participate in every Greek life activity with making sure he or she understands how to be involved responsibly?
- How do you speak about potential issues while simultaneously encouraging him or her to expand his or her horizons?
- Will your advice differ if it is your alma mater? Or your Greek organization?
- Should you tell your child what to do directly when it comes to Greek life?
- Or trust he or she will make the right decisions based on the guidance you have provided up until now?
We know there is no handbook on parenting. We also know each family has different opinions on the matter.
Let us share a few idea you can use to constructively have a conversation about Greek life with your soon to be college student.
First, give them the opportunity to make their own decisions. Do not let your decisions overshadow your child’s interests. While you may have predetermined ideas about Greek life, remember this is your child’s college experience, not your own.
Second, be open and honest with your child about your worries but do not project your opinions onto them. Talk to them about the realities of what could happen in any number of activities they may participate in while in college, not limited to Greek like. Be candid about what has occurred in the news, such as hazing, drugs, and campus-wide bans. There should be no secrets about what has occurred across the nation and you should allow them to be able to ask candid questions while they are at home with you. Always remain supportive of you child. No matter the decision, your son or daughter needs to know you will always be there with support.
Third, encourage them to be themselves. Greek life organizations are founded upon supporting one another’s differences and celebrating each other. Encourage your child, when going through the rush process, to be authentic. Remind them that they should join a chapter to be more like themselves, not like the people within the chapter.
Fourth, inspire your child to remain independent and not do anything he or she does not feel comfortable with. Every person has his or her limits. If your child does not like to drink alcohol, they should not feel pressured to. If they find themselves in a situation that is out of their comfort zone, they should have enough self-esteem and self-control to remove themselves. Remind them of this, before they head to college.
Fifth and finally, tell your child to take steps that will make their college years happy and wonderful. If joining a sorority or fraternity will bring that happiness, then they should join. If they are only joining because they think it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do, encourage them to be confident in themselves and join another organization. As a member of Greek life, your child will be able to be of service to others and to make friends in college through his or her fraternity or sorority. Hundreds of other organizations and clubs on campus, however, offer service and friendships as well. Your child should use college to find what makes him or her happy.
This may be a tricky time for you as a parent. You want to keep your child safe, especially as he or she leaves home for the first time. It is important to have open and honest conversations with your child about Greek life without pressuring or influencing one way or another. If you have a question about this issue or any other, do not wait to contact our experienced team of local attorneys. We are here to support you and your college student!