Elastic Family Ties
Teen Talk, by Bella Nalle
By Brentwood News March 2013 | March 15, 2013
As high school seniors await their college acceptances, the reality of actually leaving home has become incredibly daunting. A recent article in the New York Times written by Harley A. Rotbart entitled “8 Tips for Keeping Adult Children Close,” discusses the various ways in which parents and children can stay connected long distance.
What was most interesting to me were the comments at the end of this blog, mostly from both parents and their college-bound progeny. There was a great disparity between the emotions that both parties were feeling, especially in regard to how much contact is “too much,” and vice versa.
Of course, these are unchartered waters for my friends and me because we haven’t experienced this length of separation yet. The good news for most parents is that the widest time zone variation between them and their kid will likely only be three hours.
It seems that finding the right balance is something I feel that the student should create; not the parent. Obviously, it’ll be really hard for any close family to suddenly not be involved on a daily basis in their child’s life, but the whole point of college is that this is a personal time for growth and experience, and checking in with mom and dad constantly would not allow for that independence.
My guess is that in the first few weeks, there will certainly be a lot of Skyping, texting, and possibly tears. But as the new routine sets in, new friendships are made, and towns explored, it’s nice to think that parents will respect the excitement of these new beginnings, and learn to play bridge.
Robart calculates that there are only “940 Saturdays between a child’s birth and her leaving for college” – this was a very striking statistic, especially considering that a person my age most likely doesn’t remember most of those days, given that half of them occurred when we were very little.
Despite the distance, it is important that families stay connected, but to a healthy extent. In the article, it seemed like some of the parent commenters were busy planning Saturday #1,020 and living vicariously, wishing nothing but that their kid returns at Thanksgiving… that seems like a lot of pressure.
A modicum of pretense will probably be the norm initially… “Hey Mom! Yeah, everything’s going well. I love the food…my roommate…the nonstop rain…12 feet of snow…no, yeah, it’s awesome.”
And I can already imagine my Mom jokingly replying with someone along the lines of, “I’m glad you’re having a great time, because we just rented out your room,” feigning self-assurance while she’s really curled up in a fetal position on my comforter.
My personal preference would be to be completely forthright with one another; that way, the risk of losing 18 years of closeness discussing all parts of your life doesn’t suddenly disappear with freshman orientation.
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