Due to some of the complexities of college-age life seen in last nights show, I’m going to break this review into 2 parts. In this first part I will talk more generally and tomorrow I will dive into specifics of each person. My desire for this review is for us to think much more deeply about late adolescent/college-age issues and life. This is clearly an area that has not been developed in literature (but there is more coming, I promise!), and consequently leaders in the church have not dove into this area enough.
Last night we got a glimpse of the reality of all nighters during finals week, procrastination of study, pressure of getting the grade, and exhileration of being finished with the semester. The students go home for Christmas break, bringing home their laundry for their parents to do, and look forward to the annual family traditions of Christmas.
This was great insight for those of you who don’t work in a college town and have students that come back to visit for Christmas break. We got a brief glimpse of the connection even those that go away for school still have to family traditions. This connection with family provides a sense of security for them as they are pursuing what their own life does/will look like. I wish they showed more of what their lives were like at home, but that’s not what the show is about I guess. Even though college-age people are pursuing their new freedoms and discovering who it is they are apart from their family, there is certainly a strong internal connection with their “home life.”
There are a few things I think are important for us to keep in mind:
- Pursuing a deeper connection with parents is very ambiguous for college-age people. Although most desire this connection to grow, they don’t know how to pursue it. Balancing their tie with family with their desire to pursue what it is they want is not a balance most understand. We’ve looked at some of the complexities of intimacy in previous posts, and with parents it’s no different.
- Typically they will not let their parents in on the nuances of their lives at college – especially their explorations in things their parents might not agree with. This may not surprise you, but we have to understand that this separation probably happens with us as well. Even though you “connect” with a student while they’re home for break the reality is you probably only got a brief glimpse into the realities of their life. I wrote an article I’d recommend you reading about dealing with students that come back for the holidays in December that might make more sense to you now – if you watched the show. You can view that here.
- They typically don’t ask parents for advice on issues because their parents will be bias and they know it. However, having someone else about their parents age to talk with would be great for most college-age people! This is where we can connect them with people in our churches. I devoted an entire chapter in College Ministry 101 on how to make these connections.
Freedom Intrusion. The show also showed students returning back to school after the holidays. Although they were excited to go home for a time, they were just as excited to go back to their life at school. This is usually the case. Although there is a desire for connection with family, this is certainly limited. Some parents might have a hard time with this, but we can encourage them that it’s just a part of college-age life. Many college-age people come home, want connection with family, but will also desire to reconnect with old friends as well. Plus, they’re used to a lot of freedom when it comes to their free-time. This often means that students aren’t home as much as their parents would’ve liked. And, typically, if parents push for them to remain home rather than going out with their friends, this pressure can created tension.
A Losing Battle. On top of this created tension, it can push college-age people away even more. I’ve found that this is viewed as an intrusion into their freedoms. They are actively enjoying their new life and when parents pull the reigns on this it only creates a chasm between them and their children. Make no mistake about it, if parents hinder their freedoms to much the parents will lose the fight – their desire for freedom will inevitably win that battle. If you work in a church with parents that have kids coming home for the holidays your ministry to the parents can be very useful! Sitting down with them and asking them how their time was, how they’re feeling, whether or not there are tensions in their relationship with their kids, etc. can be very beneficial.
Abandoned Convictions. If you watched last night you also saw the typical youth group kid beginning to settle into college life, and often abandoning previous convictions they held to. This drift away from convictions held in youth group/high school life is very typical in this stage of life. This may not surprise you, but we’ll take a look at the specifics in tomorrow’s post when I look at each individual person’s drift and late adolescent tendencies. The truth is last night we got some great insights into real life college-life issues that we MUST understand!