The day Nicole Walters moved her 18-year-old-daughter into her college dorm, she did what a lot of parents do in the car afterwards. She cried. She was grateful for how far her daughter had come in life, and proud of how hard they worked together to get there, against the odds.
After getting back home, she and her husband tried reaching their daughter over the next few days to check on her. After several unanswered phone calls and text messages, they got right back in the car and showed up at her door.
In this humorous and now viral “oh no she didn’t”-style video, you hear Nicole sharing about the details of their surprise visit to their daughter’s room. She made it clear that she did not approve of the lack of contact.
“No you won’t, no you won’t… What you’re not fixing to do when I pay tuition, is disappear for three days. That’s not going to happen, it’s too soon,” said Nicole in the video.
She also made up a flyer with her daughter’s picture on it, asking students to contact her to report any mischief in exchange for a pizza and a Starbucks gift card. She half-joked about passing the flyer out to other students on campus at the quad as an added measure to keep her daughter in line.
Mom’s actions may seem a little harsh to some, but there’s a reason it’s important for her to make sure her daughter feels her presence in her life. Nicole and her husband recently officially adopted her and her two younger sisters. And in the last two minutes of the video, she makes a touching point about showing up.
“There’s a reason I’m doing this. She’s gonna have room to make mistakes, she’s gonna have space, but what we need her to know … She’s used to having other adults not be present in her life. She’s used to thinking that if an adult isn’t around, it’s because they don’t care. She’s used to out of sight truly meaning out of mind, and I need her to understand that when we’re not around, we still love you hard. And we still think about you all the time.
“If I don’t hear from you for three days, I’m sitting there for three days thinking about how much I love you and how worried I am. And how much I want you to be excellent. That’s what parenting really looks like. And she’s not used to that. So we are showing her what parenting looks like from afar. So that that way she is prepared, ready and confident that every decision she makes is impactful and other people care about it. It’s not just her life and her word, everybody cares.”
The surprise visit and the flyer are a part of a parenting style that’s no surprise to her daughter, and brought a knowing smile to her face. And she has taken the video, now at over 4 million views, in stride.
“We are a playful family with old school messages mixed with new school parenting,” Nicole says. “She is loving the attention! With this generation — nothing is cooler than going viral! All her friends are watching our videos, and talking about how ‘fun and silly’ our family is! She’s become quite popular on her small campus!”
As you might expect, the video got some criticism, but the Walters family has no plans to change.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re so grateful for the outpouring of support and love. As for the critics, we’ve decided to ignore them entirely! We are so confident in our parenting style, as evidenced by our happy, healthy, well-rounded kids — that we’re not changing a thing!”
The playful, yet pointed message was received and they now receive regular check-in messages from their daughter every couple of days.
And now, her younger sisters at home know what’s expected of them too.
“Let’s just say our middle daughter (headed to college in three years), plans to go further away from home (and our pranks) — and carry an extra phone charger at all times,” says Nicole.