College is a transition -- a rite of passage. My friend, Marianne, found this out when she applied to go to Temple University. Knowing her as well as I do, I can see this happening.
Many of my teens are heading off to Freshman Year of college. Listening
to their fears and also to their joys reminded me of the July/August
Orientation I had to attend at Temple University after the school
accepted me. My parents had to attend the mandatory Parents' Tea, in
which school administration, professors, and student services personnel
addressed parents and told them what to expect of Temple life, on and
off campus. My parents returned late in the afternoon. I greeted
them with,"Well? How was it?"
They exchanged looks, a sign I knew to be
trouble. Mom sweetly said, "Let's put it this way. If you so much as
ever try smoking, drinking, taking drugs, having sex, asking me for
birth control, I personally will break your face and every bone in your
body." Then she kissed the top of my head.
Stunned, I looked at my
father who replied, "And when your mother's through with you, I will do
the same. Don't even think about it!"
What in the world did they hear?
Well, it turned out that Pop opened up the proverbial can of worms. All
the parents heard all the platitudes about college youth growing up.
Administration asked the parents if anyone had any questions. Pop said
he and Mom had a question. "What about drugs? What do you say about
A very uncomfortable silence ensued and then all hell broke loose
with parents demanding answers about Temple's drug culture. The
administration replied that drug experimentation, alcohol
experimentation, sexual promiscuity were a normal part of the adolescent
maturation process and that services existed on campus to help the
students get past hurdles they couldn't control, AND, the school would
never divulge the student's problems to the parent, My parents replied
that was not the answer they wanted to hear. I couldn't believe my
parents would ever think that I would be guilty of any of that. I was a
very grounded teen with no desire to incur Italian Family Wrath and I
had never been in trouble except for talking too much and speaking my
mind, something my parents encouraged. Imagine my surprise, then, when I
heard all of this.
"Am I still going there? It's too late to apply
"Oh, you're going there and you're coming home, but all
the time you are out of this house, just remember what will be waiting
for you when you come home!"
Two weeks later, all incoming Freshmen had to
spend a week at Temple living in the dorm. The two girls who shared
the room with me began talking about the Parents' Tea. They both said
that when their parents came home, they read them the riot act. One of
them said, "You know, everything was cool at my house before that
meeting. Some father raised his hand and asked about drugs. Because of
him I got grounded in advance!"
I NEVER admitted that my parents were