Last year, my first born child headed off to college and took part of my heart with him. Like most parents who send their kids off to college, I (not-so) secretly dreaded an emotional separation that might form as a result of the physical separation. Here’s good news for those of you who are worried about the same thing – in many ways, you and your child will become CLOSER after you live apart! Today I’m sharing 10 easy ways to stay connected with your child at college based on my son’s first year away from home.
Don’t Wait For Your Child to Call
It’s tempting to try to hold back from reaching out to our kids when they go off to college to avoid smothering them. In an effort to avoid being helicopter parents, we might not realize that our kids still need us as safety nets. Proud kids might not call when they need us because they are worried that we’ll be disappointed. Just like you want to be missed and needed by them, they want to be missed and needed by you. Call them and let them know you’re calling for yourself, because you miss them and just need to hear their voice. This will not only make your child feel closer to you, it will make it easier for your child to be honest with you about his or her needs.
Don’t Call Too Much
I know, I just told you that you need to be proactive about calling. That being said, you don’t want to call so much that your child feels stifled. In your initial call, find out which times work best for your child and establish a schedule. Or, text before you call to make sure your child is free to talk.
Be (or Get) Tech-Savvy
Our kids were raised in a tech culture so they rely on it for almost every aspect of their lives. If you want to connect with your child, it will be easier if you do it where your child is already present. Get comfortable texting. Use Skype or FaceTime. Figure out Snapchat. Do NOT get on your child’s Instagram and post embarrassing comments on photos. Stick with mediums that allow you direct contact instead of public interaction (unless your goal is to embarrass your child, in which case post and tag away!).
Send Care Packages
This is one of my favorites since it gives me an excuse to go shopping and also guarantees me a phone call. If you need some ideas, check out these posts:
Your child is exploring a whole new life in college and he or she will want to share it with you. Telling you about it on the phone or at home during holidays isn’t the same as showing you. So even if you live far away (my son goes to school 700 miles away!), try to visit at least twice during the school year – once per semester. If you decide to surprise your child, try to give his or her roommates or friends the heads-up. Cluing them in will not only make it easier to surprise your child, it will also make your surprise appearance a positive experience.