What Maxwell Gruver’s Death Reminds Me About Parenting

Maxwell Gruver. That name kept me awake at night. Prior to becoming a mom, I would have heard Maxwell’s story, then brushed it aside with a shrug of the shoulder and a “oh, that’s sad” comment.

My life now falls somewhere on the spectrum of remembering how easily it could have been to die at the hands of collegiate peer pressure mixed in with alcohol and bad decisions versus the mom in me feeling rage and sadness at this senseless death.

Maxwell Gruver died one night at a fraternity party. The details are still unknown, but what we do know is that Maxwell was in his freshman year of college. I imagine that his parents delivered him to campus with high hopes for a bright future. A future that they will no longer know. As I mom, I have a difficult time wrapping my brain around this reality.

How do we teach our children to make smart decisions? How do we go from dropping our children off at preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, and finally handing them over to the world trusting they will remember everything we’ve taught them in their youth?

Be safe.

Don’t go along with the crowd.

Be a good friend.

This story reminds me that I only have 18 years to impart wisdom into my child’s heart and mind. Considering the span of a life, 18 years is not a very long time.

I have 18 years to remind her that it’s okay to stand alone. That standing alone is not shameful or cowardly. I have 18 years to drill into her heart and mind ways to recognize and speak up when someone is in danger or hurting themselves or someone else.

I’m not naive enough to believe that my child will not make stupid decisions. I’m still young enough to remember all the crazy things I did between the ages of 18 and 22(sorry mom). When you’re in college, your ruled by the belief that you’re invincible only made more intoxicating by raging hormones. It’s actually amazing how anyone makes though those years.

It would be arrogant of me to assume that when my daughter enters college one day she’ll be the ONLY child that never made a stupid decision. I do hope she can muddle through that confusing time, and make smart decisions.

My daughter’s only 4, so I have 14 years to continue to help develop and shape her character. I have 14 years to think about what it will be like when I drop when I drop her off at college. 14 years to teach her to make smart decisions. I recognize that as each year passes, part of my role as her parent is to prepare her for the world beyond the protected walls of our home while also fostering independence and sound judgement so that her fate isn’t’ the same as Maxwell’s.

Could this tragedy have been avoided? Certainly. It’s not our role to point fingers, especially since we don’t have all the details. My mind can’t help but assume that night would have ended differently if he made safer decisions and if he had better friends. Ultimately, he will be missed by friends and family, and most importantly, his death will not be in vain – even if serves as a reminder to have those difficult conversations with our kids. Conversations that are never too early to start.

Be safe.

Don’t go along with the crowd.

Be a good friend.

About Jada

Jada is a born and breed Cajun girl from Larose. After graduating high school early, she packed her bags and moved to Baton Rouge for college. She attended both LSU and Our Lady of the Lake and earned a degree in Health Care Administration. In 2010, over a cup of coffee at Coffee Call, she and she now husband, Zack, decided it was time to get married. 3 years later, they welcomed their daughter, Aubrey, and life has been forever changed. After thoughtful consideration [and much agonizing] she gave up her career to stay home full-time, but continues using her healthcare knowledge to pursue a home-based wellness business and teach group exercise classes. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her rescue daschund Pierre, cooking for her family, taking stroller walks with her daughter, going on date nights with her husband, teaching Baby Boot Camp and barre fitness classes, volunteering with Child Advocacy Services, and maintaining her personal blog Louisiana Fresh Living. She is also a certified Group Exercise Instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and a certified Barre by Blair fitness instructor.

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