Stop Judging College Kids: None of Us Have Ever Done This Before

If your teen is starting off their college experience in 2020, I genuinely feel for you. This “back to school” process has been painful. You have every right to be feeling all of the emotions that you’ve been feeling.





And sadness.

What makes me sad is watching the judgment that has already begun as kids move back to campus. You’ve seen the pictures and videos – kids gathering, walking, and socializing, many of them not wearing masks or physically distancing.

And the collective response has been disheartening. It’s symbolic of where our country finds itself right now. Polarized and looking for someone or something to blame for our shared frustration.

Parents need to remember these important things about our college kids.

There are some things we parents need to keep in mind

I merely ask that we all try to remember a few things about these kids.

  1. Some kids are coming to college from cities and families where they personally know someone who has been sick or has died from COVID-19. Some are coming from places where they do not know anyone who has been very sick.
  2. Some are born rule-followers, and some are not.
  3. Some are really scared to be leaving their families for the first time, particularly during a pandemic, and some are not feeling anxious at all. Some are willing to admit their fear and some can’t name or voice those feelings yet.
  4. Some are feeling desperate to make new friends immediately and will go along with whatever those closely around them are doing. Some are laser-focused are staying healthy and are hesitant to get close to anyone new, at least, for the first few weeks.
  5. Some are in the habit of always wearing a mask and think nothing of it. Some haven’t had the need to, and feel extremely self-conscious about it, or think it’s completely unnecessary.
  6. Some will venture out thinking they are going to a destination where only a few others will be and will find themselves in a situation where they don’t feel comfortable or safe leaving or speaking up about the crowded conditions they find themselves in.
  7. Some will always speak their mind and not care one bit about what others think of them. Some won’t.
  8. Some will tell their parents about everything that they’re experiencing. Some will never say a word and some will relay varying versions of the truth. All reality is subjective.
  9. Some will send home pictures of “rule-breakers.” Some will not.
  10. Some kids are there to put academics first and study diligently. Some are there to prioritize having fun.
  11. Some are naturally cautious; some have never been.
  12. Some schools are being “strict” with rules, and some are not. Some are virus testing students often, and some just don’t have the resources to do that.
  13. Some kids are signing behavior contracts or commitments, and some are not. Some kids will take those seriously, and some will not.
  14. Some kids are willing to stand up to a roommate or new friend and some don’t feel secure in doing that.
  15. Some will happily stay in their designated “pod” group, and some will wander off whenever they get the chance.

These are kids. They are flawed and wonderful and nervous and excited and joyful. They are young and they will make mistakes because that’s what people do, especially young people.

And as their parents, we need to extend grace and know they are all doing their best. And that might look vastly different from what we’ve advised our own kid to do.

We ultimately have no idea what our own student is doing when they are away from us, so let us all try to be mindful that they are learning as they go and none of us wants to feel like our children are being judged from a snapshot in time.

Please think twice before posting or commenting about other parents’ children. We all love our kids and want them to thrive in their new environments. Discuss your concerns within your family and leave it there.

May our college students all have the best year possible.

You’ll Also Love Reading:

My Son’s College Dealt a Crushing Blow But I’m Doing What Moms Have Always Done This mom describes the anguishing moment when her son found out his in person college plans for freshman year were cancelled and her resolve to support him as a student at home.

About Marybeth Bock

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing - as long as iced coffee is involved. You can find her work on numerous websites and in two books. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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