With three weeks until C-Day, I’ve been thinking about how we’ll communicate with our daughter once she is away at College. With today’s broad range of technology and its equally broad range of parenting styles, the options are wide open.
I know one couple who made an agreement with their son to talk by phone once a week. Well, more often than not, the appointed day of the week would pass without a call. Maybe two weeks would pass. Maybe three weeks. They’d call, not get answers. The mom was not, shall we say, pleased. Eventually their son did a study-abroad unit in the wilds of South America and they didn’t talk to him for months.
Then I have another friend who texted with her daughter multiple times a day. This was mutual, not just a hovering helicopter mom. Daughter would text mom on a regular basis about her classes, how she was feeling, whether to buy the grey or blue sweater, etc.
I’ve been trying to recall how I communicated with my parents in college, and can’t remember anything at all. This was long before the era of cell phones and texting, so it would have been by land line or snail mail. Were there telephones in our dorm rooms? Or pay phones in the halls? I can’t remember one way or the other.
I doubt I told my parents much about what I was doing as a freshman at college. The conversations were probably more like, “How are your classes going?” “Fine.” “How are you getting along with your roommate?” “Fine.”
But somehow I’m hoping for more from Daughter. Maybe I’m just an over-involved 21st century yuppie parent. Maybe I’m used to having at least a partial sense of what she’s doing in school and with her friends. (For a teenager, she’s been pretty communicative.) Or maybe when you’re looking at tuition and room/board costs that top $60,000, you feel like you deserve something more than “Fine” every two or three weeks.
The other day I mentioned the parent-child communication examples that I describe above. I had barely uttered the words “call once a week” when Daughter’s eyes widened and she emitted a loud “Noooooo!”
It felt like the sound someone would make in a horror movie when the alien predator that they had assumed was lying dead in a pool of goo suddenly recomposes itself and resumes its attack.
This feeds my suspicion that, with this generation, texting multiple times a day is less intrusive or threatening than a weekly phone call.
It will be interesting to see what we manage to work out.