I’m going to begin with a disclaimer: I have sons – three of them – and so any advice I have is a result of the male mindset. From what I hear, it seems as if daughters are better than sons about emailing, texting, calling, and being more communicative, but I’m aware that this is a huge generalization. There are daughters who don’t call home, just as I know there are sons who faithfully call their moms. In our household, we fall somewhere in-between -- sometimes they call, and sometimes they don't. But now that we have two in college, here is what we've learned along the way.
- When our sons don’t call home it doesn’t mean they don’t love us. Or need us. Believe me, the second they need their winter jacket or help with a resume, they will call. And they will be so nice about it.
- We ask for one day a week – we let them choose – in which they are expected to call home. This puts the ball in their court and allows them to take the lead. A friend of mine once told me that she had to train her sons in this area, and I am so glad took her advice. For us, Sunday evening is the time we catch up with our sons. That doesn’t mean we don’t/can’t talk during the week, but at least on Sunday evening our sons take a break from their busy college lives and think of their family back home. Sometimes the call comes in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening, and sometimes late at night – but that’s okay.
- They are expected to respond to our texts. We have watched our sons arrive late for dinner, stop in the middle of a conversation, or rush out at the end of church in order to answer a text from a friend. We know they will do anything to answer a text, and as parents we deserve the same courtesy. But there is a caveat . . . and it is IMPORTANT so listen up: We do not text our sons all they time. They need their space, and the last thing we want to do is hover-text (and yes, I just made up that word).
- When they call, we don’t grill them about everything they’ve been doing. It’s a conversation, which means information flows both ways. They share a little of their life and then we give them some news from home. For them to hear about Dad’s new car, their baby brother’s latest Lego creation, or what we did for Friday Family Night will remind them that we are still family and that they are still an important part of it … even though they are way over there, and we are over here.
Of course, things happen. Sometimes they will “forget” to text back, sometimes Sunday’s call comes Monday morning, and sometimes they call but aren’t talkative, but it’s all good. Besides, I know how to get the communication flowing ...
Two words: Care Package