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College is a new experience for so many of these kids. Parents who have done their best to provide a strong faith foundation end up anxiously wondering if their kids will keep the values taught to them, or continue going to service, or if they’ll give up their faith. This comes back to me every year about this time, as lots of parents I know get ready to send their kids off to college. Overall, there are plenty of worries here that can keep a parent awake at night. How can  parents deal with this anxiety? Is there anything we can do to help our away-at-school kids stay strong in the faith?

Here are seven ways to encourage your child in Faith.

  • Encourage your child to introduce himself or herself to others after Mass or Service or to attend events sponsored by their chapels in an effort to meet people who may be interested in attending Mass together in the future.
  • Encourage your child to inquire about the different types of  faith available services at their college. Colleges often have youth run prayer groups and that are especially crowded and it can be a good way to meet people, as well.
  • Encourage your child to become a become a member of  the evangelization team on  campus. It’s a good way to meet a new group of people and a chance to participate in Mass in a new way.
  • Let your child know it’s OK to look for a church in the surrounding neighborhood, if he or she is not comfortable at or has a scheduling conflict with the services on campus.
  • Let your child know that you’re praying for him or her in a way that makes them feel loved. Give them a small prayer card or medal or a stone from a holy place, etc. — something that symbolizes the faith in a way that isn’t showy. Your child may throw it in a drawer for a while, but may come across it again at just the right time and find that it is a reminder of the faith and of your faith in him or her.
  • Encourage your child to find new ways to pray — while running, hiking, camping, before studying.
  • Encourage your child to explore volunteer opportunities through campus ministry. Often, there are many service groups that are filled with members looking to incorporate spirituality and service.

The cult of “freedom at any cost ” may not be as strong as it once was, but even on strict  campuses, other forces — apathy, confusion, the widespread idea that one opinion is as good as any other, immaturity, peer pressure, hormones, and Jack Daniels and his friends — stand ready to evangelize.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}