When my oldest son went off to college I never expected to end up with life long friends as a result, but that is what happened at The Citadel.
By the end of my son’s knob year I volunteered to help lead the Georgia Citadel Parents Group. That position meant I was part of the Citadel Family Association. many of the parents I met through this organization back in 2008 are some of my close friends now. We called ourselves the YaYa’s then and now.
The Citadel Alumni network are known for supporting fellow members of the Long Gray line of graduates. The parents of cadets at The Citadel are proving to be a very close group too.
As an official volunteer while my son was a cadet, I had the privilege of being a caring presence for a few families who experienced some of life’s most challenging situations, including serious illness and death of a close family members.
I’ve seen the alumni network jump to the aid of a cadet with sudden financial needs. Parents of cadets have too over the years. The alumni have a very organized structure, but for the parents there really isn’t a structure in a formal sense. They are members of various Facebook groups. As a need arises someone will post a note, then the offers of help and prayers begin to pour in. This grass-roots support happened after hurricane Sandy when a Long Island mom, who is also a teacher posted a need. Each year leading up to ring weekend calls for support for cadets who cannot afford their ring are posted and the challenge is met.
Volunteer support is also given in family emergencies. Offers of prayers, visits to hospitals and campus are all carried out quietly by individuals and groups who hear of a need a step up to meet the need. I don’t know of another college or university that has this type of camaraderie among the parents of their students.
Parents do need to be careful though. The cadets are students at a military college. The 4th Class System is designed to train the students to become leaders, which means learning to solve problems on their own.
A recent article in Forbes addresses the problems that can arise when parents get too involved and don’t allow their children to learn through their mistakes, the title is 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. It is harder for parents of cadets to get involved with their day to day life, but quite a few parents do stay a bit too connected to the day to day decisions than is healthy for their cadet’s leadership development.
The Citadel website lists several options for families that find them self in an emergency situation. All parents should have the HELP web page bookmarked just in case it is ever needed. Only you know your student. If at any time you are concerned about your cadet or what has been reported to happen on campus always call the appropriate department. If you are not sure what the right department would be contact the Ombudsperson’s office they can help you and keep our conversation confidential if you would like.