The first official sorority recruitment event comes tonight at 5:45 pm in Brendle Recital Hall, where the Potential New Members (PNMs) will hear more about the recruitment process. Events begin in earnest on Thursday and bids will go out next Monday.
Between Thursday and Monday, there will be a lot of activity. And there is typically a lot of heightened emotions for all involved. Some girls will be getting happy results every day, some will not be invited back to the sororities they are hoping for, others still might experience bad luck. Even if your daughter is getting what she wants, her friends or roommate might not be, so there is the delicate issue of how to be happy for yourself but respectful and compassionate toward others who aren’t having a similar experience.
Recruitment is the main thing happening on campus right now (other students don’t return until the weekend), and as a result many girls are completely and singularly focused on recruitment. And given the frequency with which students communicate with their parents and families (especially if they are upset or stressed out), you will almost certainly get calls/texts/IMs/emails from your daughters. Especially if they are upset that things are not going the way they had hoped.
Let us all hope that recruitment goes well and that things in your daughters’ lives are happy. But just in case you do get a frantic phone call about things not going so smoothly, what should you do?
– First of all, take some deep breaths. While your daughter may sound stressed, upset, angry, etc., remember that this is the heat of the moment for her. The calmer you stay, the better.
– Let your daughter vent and listen and respond with empathy.
– Resist the urge to try and fix everything for her. This is a wonderful opportunity for your daughter to learn how to process negative emotions and work through them on her own – which is something she will need to do for the rest of her life! Better to build those skills now!
– Instead of offering solutions of what you can do for her, instead ask your daughter how she thinks she will want to handle her situation. Let her seek her own solutions, so she learns to build problem solving and resiliency. Ask questions like: what have you considered doing? what are your options? where on campus might you turn for assistance or support?
– Encourage her to take advantage of on campus support systems. If she does not know where to turn, you might ask a few leading questions “Isn’t there a University Counseling Center? Have you considered confiding in your RA or academic adviser? Can your Gamma Rho Chi (Greek Recruitment Counselor) be a resource?” Parents and families, you should know that both the RAs and the GRCs will be checking in on girls who withdraw from recruitment (or who are not successfully matched). In addition, there is an informal “Mary’s Posse” of female faculty members and administrators who reach out to young women with unhappy outcomes to offer their support and who will be providing a bunch of great non-recruitment activities on and off campus, as well as informal conversations and connections with any girls who seek it. So urge your daughters to connect with any of the above.
– Sometimes a parent’s first reaction to the frantic phone call is to offer to come to campus to be with their daughters or offer to fly them home. Before you do that, think that through very carefully. For some young women, being removed from all her other friends and support outlets on campus might have an adverse (and unintended) effect of making her sit at home (or in a hotel room with mom) and just stew and stew and stew about the situation, which might be counterproductive. In addition, letting your daughter leave campus might rob her of the opportunity to figure out how to process unhappiness and negative feelings on her own – if you are providing a well-meaning distraction to keep her mind off her sorority situation, she might not be building those self-care and resiliency skills – because she is looking to you to provide all that.
And while this is not the time she will want to hear that life will offer her many opportunities as well as disappointments, we all know there will someday be a job, or a house, or a spouse, or some goal that she wants and does not get – no matter how hard she works or how deserving she may be. We all have times when we don’t get what we want. But that is part of life. Sometimes learning that lesson and putting it into proper perspective earlier is better.
While no one wants to have an unhappy daughter if recruitment is not going well, please remember that typically students tend to vent their frustrations to Mom and Dad and family members, and after they have vented their spleen, they feel better. Unfortunately now YOU are carrying the burden of worrying about your student.
Remember – and tell your daughter – that time provides perspective and healing after disappointments. What is a Major Disaster today might be a mere annoyance in a week, and to take the long view. Let her work through that. True, your student is not going to be crushed one day and happy the next after a disappointment, but the way to help your student learn to manage adversity – again, something we all need to know how to do – is to let her solve problems on her own and give her time to work through her feelings. In the process, she will learn that the sun will still shine tomorrow, this is not the end of the world, and she will also learn a valuable lesson that she is in fact a capable person.