As the school year wraps up and seniors prepare to head off on the adventure we call college, we realize some spiritual challenges await. Long before high school graduation, they have been assaulted by attacks on their faith, but during the college years, when so many students are expected to “sow wild oats,” the enemy sees openings and ups the ante.
We must be arm our children against assaults like the one I spoke of earlier concerning Harvard’s “cultural diversity” program which invited a NYC based Satanic Temple in to perform a black mass Monday evening.
There are things you can do to provide your child with the best possible college experience and help him to grow into the adult God had in mind!
Preparing Your Child for College:
- Start Early – It is never too early to begin praying. Pray before your child is born. Pray even before your child has been conceived.
- Attend Church Regularly – Bring your child to church regularly. Let nothing get in your way. Leave electronics at home but bring a children’s Bible or other age appropriate, faith-based activity. As he gets older, explain the Mass.
- It’s Not too Late – If you haven’t been the most diligent, you have a harder task raising faith-filled children, but nothing is impossible with God! Be honest about your missed opportunities. Ask forgiveness – and start immediately!
- Model Your Faith – Pray openly. Say the Rosary. Discuss the meaning of each bead. Read the Bible. Let your child know you pray for him as well as with him.
- Give Biblical role models – Study the life of Jesus. How did He respond when he was angry, tempted, or hurt? How did He respond when celebrating, meeting a stranger, or healing the sick? Study the lives of the saints. Make up discussion questions.
- Find real life role models – Surround yourself with those who will have a positive influence on both your child and on you. Read about modern Christians making a difference, taking a stand.
- Choose the Media Influence – We are bombarded with trash daily. At home, play Christian music, and check out faith-based movies in theaters or through mail order. There is some really great stuff being produced now – even for young men!
- Define College Goals – The most important goal should be to develop into the person he wants to be. Discuss this type of person. What virtues does he portray? Have him write a letter to himself 5, 10, 20 years down the road. Put it in a lock box.
- Take Nothing for Granted – Does your child know how much you loves him? You sure? Whose values is that the teacher you like personally teaching when she says “values education”? Can you be certain faith will always be practiced freely in America? Hold doors of communication open, but walk through first when needed.
- Make Expectations Clear – There is no room for wishy washy parenting. Be strong. Let your children know drinking to excess is never acceptable. Drug us of any kind is not acceptable. “Hooking up” is not acceptable.
- Give Resources – Temptations will arise at any college. Give ways to say NO and the strength to do so. Present hypothetical situations and ask how to handle them. Practice!
- Hand Over Power – This is tough, but eventually, parenting means letting your children make some decisions. Don’t wait until they are heading off to college. Start small so they have experience. Talk about how college choices will shape who they want to be.
- With Autonomy Comes Failure – Failure is part of life. As parents it is our natural desire to swoop in and prevent the hurt of failure, but failure teaches valuable lessons. Starting at a very young age, kids need the ability to fail – and the ability to get back up!
- Be Involved – Dropping your child off thousands of miles away doesn’t mean he doesn’t need you. Cards, notes, care packages – add scripture notes, inspirational books, and other items to remind him of his roots. Not everything has to be religious either. Enclose a picture of an adoring younger sibling!
- Reach Out to the Local Church – On campus visits, stop in and introduce yourself to the local priest. Walk around the grounds. Light a candle. Stop to pray together. Being familiar with the church may help your child decide to go Sunday mornings.
- Reach Out to Others – Find volunteer activities your child might like to get involved in. Take some of the focus off him and place it on being the hands and feet of Christ.
- Be Consistent – If you say, drive slowly, then drive slowly. If you say forgive, then forgive. Act as you want your child to act.
- Provide Real Roots in Faith – Give real reasons for your faith. Encourage questions. Search for answers when you don’t know. Pray with meaning. Learn the power behind the words. Without roots, faith is toppled by the slightest breeze, and many college campuses are absolute wind tunnels.
- Pray Constantly! – Your child is yours for such a short time. You are but his foster parent and he has been given free will by his Father. He will make bad decisions. He will do bad things. Your prayers for him must never cease.
- LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY – Always, as God the Father Loves you perfectly, Love with strength to tell him when he is wrong, with humility to show a better way, with open arms to catch him when he falls, and with homemade cookies to welcome him home.
Many serious challenges await college students, even in our oldest and most respected institutions. Parenting does not stop at the acceptance letter.
Please pray for those entering college and those working at our institutions of higher learning.