We have four young adult children in University – 2 near and 2 far away. They are all very close in age, and the older 2 are staying a little longer in University – to pursue job related education (we hope) – so that explains while they are all there at the same time. Being close in age – they all seemed to go through diapers, potty training, school, braces, learning to drive and teen drama at the same time – not really – but back to back anyway.
No matter how far away they are and how independent they are, they all need money – but our relationship can’t be based on that. As the kids go through school, they hopefully develop new social connections and skills – and they do change along the way. It’s hard to accept a more confident, independent child who was just in diapers throwing a temper tantrum the other day. (Sometimes they still throw tantrums.) Both sides need to evolve to develop a new relationship.
My children work, study, eat, socialize, work out and maintain busy lives. Their lives are so full, that sometimes they may forget their emotionally needy parents. My life is less busy now, and so it’s easy for us empty nesters to focus too much on what they are doing! I am learning to respect their privacy and independence, but it’s important for them to know every day that they are loved and important.
Ways we Stay Connected with Away from Home Students:
When someone can’t be home for a holiday or birthday, we visit them if it’s feasible or invite them to sit at our dinner table with the family in video chat. We actually try to set a place! When our daughter was in the mountains out of reach of internet for her grandma’s 90th, she sent a happy birthday recorded in town before the actual day, and we played it at the dinner table for grandma.
Siblings Stay Connected:
Encourage Siblings to stay in contact. We drop hints and encourage our children to contact each other either by phone or social media. They are developing and enhancing their own relationships. Some of them Snapchat, some Facebook, some text. They have a group chat – to talk about us I think. I like to think it’s about buying gifts for us – but probably not!
Let them know you are prepared to edit the occasional essay. My most independent child will occasionally become overwhelmed with school and send me something to proofread. I LOVE to do this, but try to act cool. Minutes ago I edited a resume from 3500km away for another child. It surprised me while I was writing about just the same thing!
Send Care Packages:
Mail or deliver treats – for our Vegan child, she loved a package of Vegan treats – she knew we had made them just for her and felt spoiled. http://gardenlove.food.blog/2019/10/13/vegan-cinnamon-cocoa-date-balls/ I was watching The Pioneer Woman recently, and was inspired when she sent a Care Package https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/the-pioneer-woman/episodes/care-package-101 to her daughter at college. My packages aren’t quite so fancy – and it’s kind of sad to be caught being weepy and sentimental while watching the Food Network!
Send Study Tools:
Send cue cards, calendar and study tools, In addition to sending treats, I mail cue cards, highlighters and post it notes occasionally during exam or crunch time to some of my kids. They all have different study habits. I send a big desk calendar at the beginning of each school year. I like to think they use it.
Make sure they have the right textbooks. Sometimes young adults with their own budgets will scrimp on their own textbook purchases. Sometimes I am able to find things more easily and inexpensively with my Amazon Prime membership or through text book rental.
Grocery Shopping or Delivery:
Take them grocery shopping or deliver groceries, Sometimes we take our two students who are within driving distance grocery shopping. When we last drove up to visit our daughter (5 Hours away) we went shopping with her. When you are a student using public transportation it’s difficult to carry heavy groceries like jars of peanut butter and juice. We just placed an order online for grocery delivery to our son who is far away – it was delivered same day, and I got my loyalty points (Woo hoo!) You can always throw in things that they wouldn’t normally spoil themselves with. I like spending our money this way instead of sending money, as I know it won’t go towards any sorts of beverages I wouldn’t approve of….
Necessities Near Campus:
Help them find necessities near campus. My kids have been away from home for a few years and don’t need too much help with this, but we do make sure they have checkups, know where to find medical and dental health services or things like haircuts, computer and phone repair near campus.
Finally, I try not to peek at their Social Media (too often), and maybe I’ll ask them to follow my blog!