Student Life

Family Matters

By Ryan Klinker, September 20, 2022

PARENT AND FAMILY CONNECTIONS OFFICE LENDS GUIDANCE AT EVERY STEP OF THE COLLEGE PATH

The transition into one’s college years is felt by more than just the student. Parents and guardians also approach this time with mixed feelings of excitement and uncertainty as they experience a new relationship dynamic with their son or daughter. 

This is where Liberty University’s Parent and Family Connections Office, a part of the College of Applied Studies & Academic Success (CASAS), provides assistance. The three-member team — Assistant Director Tamatha Anthony, Lead Parent Advocate Timi Plyter, and Operations Coordinator Rosemary Shakro — creates multiple avenues for informing and encouraging parents as they enter a new stage and their child gains independence.

“We help equip both sides of the conversation, the parent and child, to pass the baton of becoming an adult to the student,” Anthony said. “We have resources to answer the first-semester questions and help educate and inform parents of ways they can guide their student into college life. We help parents say, ‘We’ve got this.’”

Many of these resources can be found on the Parent and Family Connections website, where the team has created presentations, monthly newsletters, videos, blogs, helpful links, and more for parents to delve into the common scenarios of the parent-student relationship and learn more about college life.

“It’s not just about schedules, roommates, or any one of those things — it’s about the entire relationship between a parent and a new adult who is coming to college, how a parent can become a coach and a cheerleader for their child,” said Plyter, who has been a Liberty parent and now refers to herself as the “LU Grandma” in her videos. “We help them navigate these waters to the destination of their child graduating.”

Your friendly Parent and Family Connections staff: Timi Plyter (left), Tamatha Anthony, and Rosemary Shakro (Photo by KJ Jugar)

Contrary to what parents may feel at other schools, where campus life may seem off-limits to the older generations, Liberty fully welcomes families to experience student life. From breakout sessions during Welcome Week at the start of each school year, to Family Weekends each fall (Oct. 21-23 this year), to special events during College For a Weekend (CFAW), parents can explore campus for themselves and hear from the parents office staff in person.

“At Liberty, we provide every possible service to students that we can, and the parents are a part of that as well,” said Brian Yates, dean of CASAS. “What makes Liberty unique is that we don’t want to restrict parents from being involved here. We want the parents to be able to have a Liberty experience just as much as their kids, so we encourage them to come whenever they want and let them know what Liberty has going on.”

Having worked at Liberty for 26 years and spending much of that time speaking with parents, Plyter said parents’ needs have changed over the years.

“Some parents are becoming sort of ‘snowplow parents,’ where they are preparing the road for the student instead of preparing the student for the road, and so we try to help them learn the practices that can best help their child succeed in college,” she said. “We help the parents to release their grasp and help them be alright with it. Of course, they’re still loving their child, they’re still caring for them, but this time is a rite of passage in the life of the child to become an adult.”

The staff also understands that some students come from households with no college experience and may not be familiar with the practices of higher education. The website offers a glossary of terms, some widely used in education and others specific to Liberty.

“We help to slow the conversation down and not assume that they know all about the university and college terms,” Anthony said. “Even with a parent who has college experience, higher education has changed so greatly.”

The connection to families sometimes begins before the child is even an official Liberty student. The Parent and Family Connections staff can be found interacting with prospective students and families during DecideLU and ExperienceLU, special campus visits that are held throughout the year (for more information on these events, go to Liberty.edu/VisitUs).

“From that moment all the way until they graduate — and sometimes longer — we stay in communication with them and offer whatever assistance we can,” Plyter said. 

The Christ-centered core of Liberty shines through everything that the parents office provides. Liberty is committed to following through with the same Christian values many parents have worked hard to instill in their children since birth.

“The values parents have raised their children with will be continued when they come to Liberty,” Yates said. 

“We would not be able to do our jobs without our faith,” Anthony added. “It has built our resources, and it has defined the way that we respond and pray with parents. We follow Ephesians 4:29 and want any word that comes from us to be edifying. We want to bring glory to the Lord with everything that we do, including our work.”

Plyter said they don’t look at it as a job:  “We look at what we do as a ministry, and ministries last for life.”

To learn more about Parent and Family Connections, call (434) 582-2339 or email LUFamily@liberty.edu. 


Words from an LU Mom:

Korie Robertson, whose family was the focus of the hit A&E reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” has spoken frequently about the positive, Christ-centered impact that Liberty has had on her family. She participated in a College For a Weekend (CFAW) parent panel in February. Her son John Luke and daughter-in-law Mary Kate are Liberty alumni, and some of her other children have also studied at LU. 

“These are such critical years; I think it’s really important for our kids to be in an environment — during this time in their lives specifically — that is about pursuing Jesus,” Robertson said in this recent video testimonial about her experience as an LU parent.

 

 

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