Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Often Should You Call Your College Kids?

When I was in college, over 25 years ago and clear across the country, my mom would have really appreciated hearing from me more often.  That was before email, facebook, or cell phones.  Back then I had to actually write letters or call home collect, or mom (or dad) could call and try to catch me in the dorm.  Communication was very infrequent!

Nowadays, it's so much easier to keep in touch with our college kids.  No more expensive collect phone calls or even long distance charges.  We have cell phones and Skype.  No more checking the mailbox for a letter that might never come.  We have email, IM, and facebook.  So, the question is, now that it's so easy - how often should we call or contact our college kids?

I was reading an article from USA Weekend from a couple weeks ago, and  they mentioned a book by Barbara K. Hofer and Abigail Sullivan Moore called The iConnected Parent: Staying Connected to Your College Kids (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up, which I'm thinking of looking up at the library.  According to the article, surveys have shown that college students who have the most frequent contact with their parents are less autonomous, and parents need to find a balance between staying connected and giving their kids space to develop independence.  Since Cory has just started college, we haven't really thought about how it's all going to work.

Here are some ideas from the article to help figure it out:

Start early. Teach money management and laundry skills while kids are in high school; back off on helping with schoolwork.
Set a schedule. Before they leave for college, decide together how often to talk. Try to set a regular time (like Sunday nights).
Let them call. The control and decision-making strengthen a sense of independence. Let them decide what to share and whether to friend you on Facebook.
Listen well. Recognize when a call is just to vent. Resist trying to help solve problems unless it's absolutely necessary.
Focus on the goal. Your aim is a well-adjusted, independent young adult. “The bottom line is to keep in mind what kind of person is developing in the process,” the authors write.

Enhanced by Zemanta