Engaging Family and Friends in Your Lifelong Commitment to Fraternity
The phone call to my parents in early September of 2009 was a common experience fraternity men and sorority women have. I told my parents I wanted to join a fraternity. The usual silence ensued, a sigh, and then the question, “Why?” I explained to my parents I connected well with the men, they have a house I will be able to live in, and they have a pet Chinchilla named Suzie! While I recognize my reasons were superficial, the relationships, development, and values Sigma Pi has given me are an active part of my life; a lifelong commitment to Sigma Pi. Today, my parents view fraternity differently than the day I told them I wanted to join a fraternity, the day I showed them the home, and the day I called them about the tragic loss of a fraternity brother. I recently asked my parents about how they would describe to other people how much Sigma Pi means to me. They responded, “You are always there for your brothers!”
Engaging parents, family, and friends in your lifelong commitment to fraternity provides men the opportunity to share, live, and practice living the values of their organization. When fraternity men place their hand over their heart, get down on one knee, and pledge their loyalty to their fraternity, a commitment is made. Yes, a commitment is made to the individual and his brothers, but a commitment in made to engage family and friends in their lifelong membership. When was the last time you had a conversation with your mother, father, or guardian about a philanthropy event your chapter hosted? When was the last time you called your aunt, uncle, or cousins to ask them how they would approach a situation with another brother to resolve a conflict?
Let’s be the leaders to engage our family and friends in our lifelong learning, development, and membership in our fraternity. If we share these experiences with fraternity brothers, why can we not share it with those important people in our life too? Below are a few ideas and thoughts about how to engage parents, family, and friends in your fraternity experience.
Pick Up the Phone
Have you called your mother lately? While this question has mother in it, replace it with any family or friend. Instead of shying away, hiding, or being quiet about your fraternity membership, share it with others. While attending the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute as a participant and a facilitator, when talking about ritual, it states: Live It, Learn It, Teach It, Expect It! If we live our ritual as fraternity men, learn it, study it, we should be picking up the phone or creating conversations with our families about our fraternity experiences and values. Then, we can let them know they should “Expect It” too and can hold the fraternity man accountable!
When was the last time your fraternity sent a newsletter out to parents, family, or friends? “Yeah, we just sent one out to parents and guardians for new members that joined.” “We had mom’s/dad’s day!” My response is did you engage them again? Did you engage friends from home? Did you engage other family members besides mother and father figures? I encourage fraternity men to think about creating a monthly newsletter to be sent to individuals of the member’s choice. This newsletter can exhibit the positives experience of the fraternity chapter and create continual conversations about fraternity with key stakeholders.
Our brothers may not be holding us accountable to be the best version of ourselves as a fraternity man. It is the honest truth. Our parents, family, and friends are often times part of our key developmental years. If you are a leader of your fraternity, there will be times you want to quit, give up, and just ignore a problem. If your family and friends have been continually involved in your experience, they will be able to provide clarity in resolving an issue potentially. If they have heard you talk on the phone about the importance of your fraternity, read a newsletter, saw a picture, they will understand the accountability you need to succeed. Engaging these important people in our life creates an atmosphere or being better than you were the day before; a tenant we sell as a benefit of joining a fraternity.
“From the outside looking in you can never understand it. From the inside looking out you can never explain it” Disagree. I propose, “From the outside looking in, you can share your experience of fraternity membership and create conversations. From the inside looking out you can practice, exhibit, and live your values to explain it.” Our families are often times the place we learn to love, show compassion, and learn from our mistakes. Fraternities provide a similar experience; creating a bond with brothers, showing compassions, and learn from our mistakes and being held accountable. Let’s bring these two together and engage our family and friends in our lifelong member and show just how important fraternity is to us Sigma Pi men.
Challenge: When you are done reading this, pick up the phone, and call a family member or friend and share one important part of your fraternity experience with them.
Kevin Carey is currently a graduate student at Ball State University pursuing his M.A. in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education. Kevin serves as a national volunteer for Sigma Pi Fraternity as the Indiana Province Archon and a member of the Educational Coalition. Kevin graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with his B.A. in English. Connect with Kevin on social media (@kevinmcarey) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.