How to Stay Connected When a Child Leaves Home:
*Technology makes it easier to stay connected. Stop. Let them lead. How do they want to communicate: Skype, phone, email, texting? I got very discouraged when I would email my grandkids and would get no answer. Then I started texting them and I got an immediate response. It helps to talk about communication styles before you say goodbye.
*When his daughter went to college, Jeff, a father of four, was encouraged by the school to write his daughter a letter each week, which he did. I asked him recently if he felt that was worthwhile, and he said, “Yes. I know that my relationship with Ashlee got better during her first year at college.”
I also checked in with Ashlee who has graduated now and she said: “I think writing was helpful for Jeff and for me. I do feel there should be no pressure for a response letter (Jeff never asked for a response) because students are so caught up in the 1st year of adjustment that responding may not happen. Keeping that contact is key, whether it’s through a letter, leaving a voice mail, a text, to let your student know that you are thinking about him or her. Also sending them a care package, or making the drive to take them out for a lunch or dinner is a great way to keep connected.”
*Jeff also says, “My only “good” piece of advice is, “leave the door open”. None of our kids want any help when we want to give it. They also do not want any unsolicited advice. The only way I have found to be effective once in a while is to keep calling and listening. If I just let them talk they sometimes ask me what I think. Maybe they will then listen. They will NOT listen if I try to force it.”
*As a grandparent, I prepare “care packages” once-a month for my grandchildren. Before they leave, I ask them to fill a sheet of their preferences (What are their favorite cookies, cheese spreads, crackers, candy bars, trail mixes, favorite gift cards to receive, etc.) I add a favorite cartoon, interesting news article and a note to the box. I then have fun putting the boxes together, and as I do so, I think of the person and feel like I am still involved in their lives.