Reality Check Oct29

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Reality Check

• A College Mom’s Reality Check •

I am a college mom and, as difficult as it is for me to believe, this story is about my family. We have a close-knit, “normal” family. We know our kids. They are great kids. So how could this be happening to us? How could our son come home from college an addict? What went wrong? What signs did we miss, or ignore? Can other college parents learn from our situation? We certainly do not have all the answers, but we do feel blessed that our son is getting the help he needs. And now, he is doing amazingly well. And we are all recovering.

When I look back, there are some things that maybe we could have done differently that might have made a difference, or might have clued us in earlier that there was a problem. Maybe not. But if I had to do it over again, and if I can help another mom, dad or college student avoid a similar situation, here are a few things I would recommend:

  • Discuss expectations and set goals for your college kids, and follow through. We set goals about grades and part-time work but didn’t hold our son to those goals.
  • If your kid is interested in the Greek system, discuss it with them not just once, but over and over again. Know the house, know the people, and know what is going on. We saw things that alarmed us but we just accepted that it was typical frat behavior, and didn’t address it.
  • Pay attention to mood swings. If your college student has frequent mood swings, something may not be right.  Don’t just bring them home for the weekend and think it will go away. Go to the school. Go to their apartment. Meet their friends. Try to find out what is really going on.
  • If your college student does not look right to you, don’t just assume it is from studying too much, lack of sleep and lack of eating. Ask questions.
  • And most of all, if your instinct tells you something is not right, then most likely it is not. Go with your gut and don’t be afraid of what you might learn. Fear is not a useful feeling. It is scarier to not know than to know and be able to take action.

Please read our story below as told by our Rabbi. And if anything sounds familiar to you, know that you are not alone.

 

We Don’t Live in Stepford

by Rabbi Stewart Vogel, Senior Rabbi at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills (Published in Jewish Journal on September 3, 2013 and reprinted with permission)

Not long ago, I showed up for a Friday night Shabbat service at Beit T’Shuvah in Culver City. Over the years, I have counseled a number of congregants whose adult children were saved by this addiction recovery program, and I wanted to experience Beit T’Shuvah’s spiritual Shabbat service, which I had heard so much about.

As I walked into a room crammed with several hundred people, I spotted one of my young adult congregants who had shared his struggle with addiction with me over the years. He gave me a big hug — it was clear he was grateful for the opportunity to share this part of his life with his rabbi.

A short time later, I noticed a synagogue member sitting with her husband and two 20-something sons. I knew this family well and wondered what brought them to Beit T’Shuvah. Over the last 20 years we had shared moments of joy and sadness as well as a closeness every rabbi yearns for with his congregants. I wondered if they were there in support of a family member. When I finally caught the eye of the congregant, it was if she had been punched in the stomach; there was no joy in her eyes, only fear. I knew then that she was there for one of her boys. Read more

 

 

 

 

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