Recently, I came in contact with the mother of a fraternity man from a prestigious southern university. It turned out that “Frat Mom,” as I call her in this interview, was not only quite a big fan of TFM, but also full of opinions about Greek Life (having been in a sorority herself, and married to a fraternity man), and funny on top of that. Frat Mom had nothing but interesting and entertaining things to say and it got to the point that I needed to publish them. While she might be a business developer for a large accounting firm in the south by day, at heart she’s really just a sweet mom, a Frat Mom.
Without further adieu, my conversation with the woman who should probably raise most of America’s children.
Bacon: What did you think when your son told you he wanted to join a fraternity?
Frat Mom: I was thrilled! Automatic family, parties, events, road trips, and memories to last a lifetime! It’s the only time in your life you can dress exactly like 60 other men and it be socially acceptable. I think being part of a Greek organization totally enhances your college experience, it’s sort of like your family pays for you to be on a cruise for 4 (or 5) years. I truly wish everyone had the opportunity to be in a fraternity because I really, really believe you make lifelong friends and memories that will carry you through the next 20 years, when everyone around you isn’t nearly as cool or fun or smart as your fraternity brothers in college were.
Bacon: That might be one of the most realistic and glowing opinions I’ve ever heard a parent give about a fraternity. So did you tell your son to live it up when he joined?
Frat Mom: Work as hard as you can, play as hard as you can. No throttle!
Bacon: That’s an amazing outlook, and probably the exact opposite of the one my own parents had when I was entering college, which was basically, “For the love of God be responsible. Don’t be an idiot, idiot.” Still, were there any fraternity news stories or old wives’ tales that made you even a little apprehensive?
Frat Mom: HA! Well, I was in a sorority and a fraternity little sister and my husband was in a fraternity. Honestly, my only concern was [Redacted] choosing the RIGHT fraternity for him! It’s like dating and marriage, right? If you choose correctly it’s effortless and fun and fabulous. If you don’t make the right choice, it’s brutal and miserable for everyone! I will admit that when I heard about “butt chugging” at UT Knoxville I did wonder, “is this something new that students do?” I’d never heard of “butt chugging” and was stunned. I felt slightly better after my son assured me, “no mom, that is NOT something ANYONE does.” Whew
All parents are a bit apprehensive about hazing and hell week, but frankly – I think those events prepare you for the real word. New jobs are like hazing. having a new baby is like hazing – it’s just to see what you’re worth and if you have some backbone and tenacity!
I’m a bit bratty so I think people who are negative about Greek life are:
– Jealous because they are not attractive enough to get a bid.
– Thought Greek life was below them because they are oh-so intellectually superior to those of us who wear cute clothes.
– Didn’t go to kindergarten so they can’t work and play with others.
– Home schooled
Bacon: I’m going to have to check with some scientists but that sounds accurate. And yeah, that butt chugging thing was the story of the year. Unbelievable. Sadly, I think a lot of moms asked that question after hearing about it.
What do you think when you hear about more conventional fraternity shenanigans (i.e. NOT butt chugging) like parties gone out of control? Example: a fraternity that goes scorched earth on a gas station after formal.
Frat Mom: Oh my gosh, I’m laughing [at the Sigma Chi trashing a gas station story] but I’m sure I shouldn’t be! It’s just the gang mentality. We all know that if you put enough men and enough alcohol together that stupidity abounds! Everyone has to one up the next guy and situations get out of control. I mean, it wasn’t the ENTIRE fraternity, it was the group that was stupid enough to stop at a Mini Mart at 5:25 in the afternoon (before?) formal. Who the hell goes to Mini Mart anyway? It drives me crazy that situations like that get media coverage but there will not be any media coverage of Greeks doing Habitat for Humanity, 5K’s, Building Floats, or donating money to various philanthropic organizations.
Whew – off the soapbox now.
Do you remember about 18 months ago when an ATO from Marshall shot a bottle rocket out of his butt and the impact knocked him off the porch and he filed a law suit? Classic example of stupidity with a group of guys and alcohol. Who thought it was a good idea to shoot a bottle rocket out of their butt? DRUNK BOYS.
There should always be a girl around to manage gang mentality.
Bacon: You have a pretty open minded stance on hazing. I think that’s definitely something most mothers really worry about. What would you have said, if you could have, to the pledge trainer in charge of your son, and hazing him, when he was pledging?
Frat Mom: What do they [moms] REALLY worry about? Who knows. I only worried about him being able to go to class that week! I would have said [to her son’s pledge trainer] “Be fair!” I think everyone has a different view of “hazing.” What is hazing? Is teasing hazing?
I personally think most parents are over-protective and want to put their ADULT/KID in a shell. Well, guess what? That isn’t the real world. I trusted that my son made a good choice about his fraternity and as a parent, if you can’t trust your kid to make good decisions about who they spend time with and groups they join (this includes pledging/hazing), then you’re all screwed because your kid is stupid. I think parents have a very “Animal House” view of Greek life and while it is sometimes/somewhat accurate, I don’t believe it’s the norm. But how would I know? I was in a sorority. Our idea of hazing was 2 of us wearing the same outfit.
I don’t think Mani Te’o would never have survived in a fraternity environment.
Bacon: HA! He definitely didn’t take Alabama’s hazing too well. So hazing is one thing that worries parents, another is drinking, or “binge drinking,” as a whole. What were/are your concerns and expectations with a) Spring Break (or really any drinking vacation like Formals) and b) just college drinking in general.
Frat Mom: Drinking vacations and binge drinking scare me to death because when your goal is to get drunk you don’t know how much you drink, and you can die. I like drinking in moderation because you can still have a great time but you can also be responsible (relatively) and have a thought process. Binge drinking is foreign to me because that isn’t the “cocktailing” that we used to do, so it’s frightening. It scares me!
Aspect #2 of why binge drinking scares me is that nobody will step up. If someone passes out will anyone step up and make sure there is a hospital visit? Probably not.
Also, why is binge drinking popular now? Is it because college students are pressed for time so you have to binge drink? That is terrible! Drinking is supposed to be fun and relaxing and enjoyable. Where is the fun of binge drinking?
I wish there were a drinking hotline students could call for each other. As stupid and basic as this seems if your brother/sister/friend is passed out in a corner and doesn’t respond, it’s time to CALL SOMEONE, not decorate them like a Christmas tree.
Bacon: You’re an admittedly big TFM fan. Why?
Frat Mom: TFM is a window in to world that is not mine so I love it! It makes me feel connected to the world my son is in! TFM is hip, cool and trendy and informative! Best of all it’s hysterically funny! I love the wit and sarcasm! Where else can I get this level of information and entertainment?
Bacon: Haha well that’s good. I’m impressed that you have such an open mind to it. I work here and I think my parents only begrudgingly accept it. But there isn’t ANYTHING that wildly offends you on TFM? What do you think when you see something like Fail Friday or Rush Boobs? YOUR SON COULD BE WRITING “RUSH [Redacted]” ON BOOBS!
Frat Mom: Ahhhhhhhhhhhh you got me! I hate Rush Boobs! Sometimes I cringe at Fail Friday. I also hate that the “sweethearts” aren’t in alphabetical order by state. I think we should do TFM recipes for appetizers and cocktails. Guys need to learn to entertain with something other than a bag of chips.
Bacon: I like the recipe idea. I’ll get the TSM girls on it. So I guess Rush Boobs weren’t a thing when you were in school, huh? Is there anything else on the site that makes you cringe? Or at least think, “C’mon guys, really?”
Frat Mom: Sometimes, but I think y’alls stuff is so hilarious – sometimes I think an article/post will go slightly to far and could be just as funny and good without the shock value. But I am a 50 year old female and I am NOT your target audience. I think y’all could have great fun with a cooking/baking section and it would be so fun if you could kick that up before Valentines. I think it could be sweet or funny or vulgar depending.
Bacon: I think we’re incapable of being sweet without being at least a little bit vulgar, I know I am. I get uncomfortable otherwise. It’s a problem.
That’s all the questions I have. I really appreciate you taking the time to email with me. You’re a saint.
Frat Mom: I want to send you cookies