"Can I Get Your Advice on Something?"
The reality is, children often go to their parents for advice already knowing the decision they would make even if their parents’ decision doesn’t agree with theirs- so watch out. If your child comes to you asking if they should join a fraternity or sorority, they are interested in pledging or have already received a bid from at least one house. If you let your child know the typical expectations in Greek fraternity and sorority life, which revolve around heavy drinking and excessive partying, it may not sit well with them. They may even join to spite you. Responding with “I never pledged so I’m not entirely sure. Tell me why you’re interested” is optimal because you’re not passing judgment and are gauging their curiosity at the same time. This won’t work if your child knows you were a Kappa Sigma, of course, so tell them what your experience was like – positive or negative – and let them choose their path from there. If you loved going Greek, maybe they will too- but if your time was less than perfect, being honesty without malice or critical judgement could be a key factor in your child’s final choice.
For some unsolicited advice: You are responsible for your child’s existence on this planet but if they don’t directly ask you what your opinion is, don’t offer it. Doing so will make you seem meddlesome or wary of your child’s decision-making skills and it’s likely that it will prevent your child from coming to you for advice at all. When in doubt, trying listening without response unless you truly feel your child’s decision could threaten their safety or jeopardize their future.
Last Edited: July 2015
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