The grown up version

Being “Mama called and Papa sent”

Of all the things I quote most often in my job, this phrase is tops. It was coined by my grandfather and describes his feelings toward some pastors he’s seen. However, I see it everyday at work. Parents who are correct in wanting a college education for their child, but incorrect in making the education belong to the parent and not to the student.

It’s an interesting paradigm. As parents, my husband and I are absolutely charged with helping our children make good decisions. We base our knowledge on what we read and what we’ve been told, but more largely on our own set of experiences. On the other side, our boys must learn and have experiences of their own. They must make mistakes on their own. Their triumphs must be their own.

So while I would love for my son to listen to me and take only the classes that I know are going to prepare him for college; I can’t walk him to the college advisor and pick his classes. I can advise, but ultimately, if he stupidly takes all his electives during his freshman year – that’s his mistake. My job as a college advisor gives me knowledge to help. My job as a parent means I can only offer help, I can’t force it.

This week I listened to a fellow parent lament the choices their child had made. It was heart wrenching to hear.  But my sympathy abruptly ended when they described in detail the new car, and the apartment off campus they were going to pay for while their sweet delinquent was in his third college in one year.

My question to myself: “At what point do I realize that my sons’ mistakes (and triumphs) are not a reflection on me?” To take credit or blame is not helping my boys become real men. And without a sense of independence, this world will eat them for breakfast.


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