As summer winds to a close, many parents are getting ready to say goodbye to their children who are heading off to school. Last week we talked about what parents of first time college students can do to prepare for the change, but parents who have already been through this know one of the hardest aspects of sending your child out into the adult world is keeping the lines of communication open.
It’s not just a struggle of parents of college-age kids. While kids are staying at home longer than before, eventually something usually takes them away from home. Be it work, relationships or just exploring, they can’t stay at home forever. So how do you ensure, as they go off to do their own thing, that everyone stays in touch? Here are a few simple ways.
Don’t get offended.
You’re used to speaking with your children everyday when they live at home. It’s not going to be like that when your kids leave the house. You should understand that right away, as well as understanding that the drop off in communication does not suggest they don’t want to talk to you. think about when you were young and moving out for the first time. First of all, it’s a busy time. There’s a lot to do, a lot to get used to so it only makes sense they won’t be around every time you call. It’s also a very exciting time. However nervous they might be for this next stage in their life, there’s no doubt a good bit of excitement and you can’t blame them for not thinking to call every night. So while encouraging open communication is good, don’t take it personally when they don’t pick up the phone.
Respect their privacy and maturity.
You’re their parent and you’ll always be their parent, so sometimes it can be difficult to remember that they’ve grown up. Those parenting instincts die hard but you have to consider that your child has taken a big step in leaving home and being treated like they are still a child can offend them. Have confidence that they’re making the right choices, staying healthy and staying safe. If you pester them with these things (“Are you eating right?”) it can feel more like you’re checking up on them rather than having a conversation. Likewise, it’s normal to be curious about their personal lives but if there are subjects they wish to keep private, respect their wishes.
While pestering your kids and expecting them to answer every time you call is never a good idea, but something you can do is set up a time where you can connect each week. Your kids do miss talking with you and do want the opportunity to talk to you, but sometimes you’ll need to take the initiative. Suggest a time when you’re both not too busy (Sunday evening are usually a good call) and stick to it. Of course, it might not always work out but having that routine established gives you both the piece of mind of knowing the next time you talk.
Embrace their methods.
If you want to keep your communication more casual and more frequent, you may need to embrace some of their preferred communication streams. It can be hard to get your kid on the phone but there are plenty of other ways. Text messaging, emailing, Facebook chat, Snapchat – these are all great, easy ways to stay connected without invading their privacy. Sure, you might prefer a phone call but reaching out through these easier methods is a good compromise.
Don’t make them regret adding you on Facebook.
Social media is a great way to connect with people but it can be a tricky thing to navigate when it comes to your children. Chances are that you kid didn’t sign up with Facebook to connect with their parents. It’s a place where they can interact with friends and be themselves online. If you happen to be connected with your kids on social media, you have to respect that fact and allow them to feel free from your parental judgment while online. If you want to talk to them about somethings you see from them online do so privately, but also know that they can remove you from Facebook as easily as they added you.