Students come to college, parents tag along

Jonathan Soder, Features Editor

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For every student, college includes certain challenges. Move-in day brings feelings of homesickness. Civ introduces students to the real adult world with hours upon hours of work. And finally, graduation often comes with uncertainty about the future. On top of these mutually experienced complications, some students have to navigate the double role of student and child.

Several of these students include sophomore pre-counseling major Mackenzie Camp, sophomore math major Becca Mathews and senior Biblical studies major Graham Griffin.

The Challenges

During high school, many students perceive teachers’ children as naturally intelligent, having an unfair advantage, privy to all the goings-on of administration and sundry other stereotypical characteristics. For Camp, Griffin and Mathews these stereotypes haven’t made a strong appearance during their college lives. However, there are a few that linger.

“Whenever [students] ask questions about stuff that [my dad] talks about in his classes, they don’t completely expect me to know answers,” Camp said, “but they kind of want me to have answers.”

For Griffin, stereotypes manifest mainly in occasional joshing from his friends on account of his status as “the dean’s son.”

Mathews experiences mild cases of stereotyping in the same vein as Griffin, which she says is actually the opposite of how things really are with her father.

“[It’s assumed] I can get away with things because my dad works here, but that is not the case at all,” Mathews said. “Actually, the exact opposite because I’m under tighter standards. Like, I have to have people sign off on things if I want to get a job in his college and things like that. So, I’m actually under stricter standards than if I didn’t have a parent who worked here.”

The Relationship

On the relationship front, all three students said that little has changed for the worse with their parents since coming onto campus.

“I feel like, potentially, we could allow it to be a really big deal,” Mathews said, “but my dad is really strict on professionalism. He wants to handle everything in the most professional, polite and logical way. That’s probably more his personality than mine, but, for the most part, it’s like we have to handle this as mostly separate entities just because if [I] were any other student [I] wouldn’t have any more say over [something] than anyone else.”

Likewise, for Camp, her and her father’s on-campus relationship is largely confined to moments when they meet in passing between classes.

Both young women also live at home where they have a more relaxed relationship with their fathers. Both Camp and Mathews also started out living on campus, then transitioned to living at home later. Even after tasting freedom and moving back in with her parents, Camp said it hasn’t strained her and her father’s relationship.

“It’s weirder having the first time living at home after having lived away be also overlapped with taking his class for the first time,” Camp said. “But, it doesn’t make anything bad. I’ll be like, ‘Hey dad, when is that genogram due again?” and he’ll be like, ‘Look at the syllabus.’ So… we try to keep it separate.”

For Griffin, if any change has occurred in his relationship with his dad, it has been for the better.

“When I was at home for school, we would come up to OBU for events all the time and see [my dad] work,” Griffin said, “so I’ve always known the academic side of my dad and then also the at-home side of my dad.”

These two parts of his dad he said are the same man, just in different roles, and this consistency is inspiring to him.

“It’s cool to get to see the relaxed [Dad] where he’s still living with such high standards and such intentionality even when he’s at home and not even on the clock at OBU,” Griffin said. “That’s been a testament to seeing what a kind of man he is and seeing that I want to be that kind of person.”

The Perks

Directly resulting from Griffin’s respect for his father is one of his favorite aspect of having his dad on campus with him.

“I can’t even express how big of a blessing it is still to be under the watch and care of my dad,” Griffin said. “It puts a certain level of accountability on me to have to know that I don’t just carry my name here. I carry the Griffin name here at OBU, which is more than just me. If I do something disrespectful, that reflects not only me, that reflects my dad.”

For Mathews the perks are less idealistic and more practical. She can go flop down on her dad’s couch whenever she needs a nap. And for Camp, well no questions were off-limits as a kid, and none are now either.

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