Across the globe, college students are settling in on campus and their parents are back home
wondering what they're going to do without their son or daughter at home. For many, this may be the first time the parents and (now-grown) children have been apart for an extended length of time. Homesickness and empty-nest syndrome will probably affect them in one way or another as they adjust.
This is a great time to get out that stationery and write some letters!
For parents, the trick is to write a letter that, at the same time, includes news from home but doesn't make the college student feel too left out, lets them know you miss them but doesn't make you sound crazy, offers some advice but doesn't come across too pushy. It can be a delicate balance to achieve.
In addition to writing a newsy letter from home a few times a month, parents can also send occasional care packages, including cookies, a favorite food, an expensive magazine they might not be able to afford, clippings from the local newspaper, a dorm-friendly recipe, etc.
Here is some insightful information from Marshall P. Duke, a professor of psychology at Emory University, as posted on the Huffington Post:
"Here is what I tell the parents: think of what you want to tell your children when you finally take leave of them and they go off to their dorm and the beginning of their new chapter in life and you set out for the slightly emptier house that you will now live in. What thoughts, feelings and advice do you want to stick? "Always make your bed!"? "Don't wear your hair that way!"? Surely not. This is a moment to tell them the big things. Things you feel about them as children, as people. Wise things. Things that have guided you in your life. Ways that you hope they will live. Ways that you hope they will be. Big things. Life-level things.
I tell the parents lastly, that I, myself, was never able to do this, because I was too emotional and couldn't quite say what I wanted without crying or with a desirable level of equanimity. All is not lost, I tell them and I tell you. As soon as you can after you leave the campus, write your child a letter -- with a pen -- on real paper -- in your own hand. The first sentence should be something like, "When I left you at the campus today,(or at the airport , etc.) I could not tell you what I wanted to say, so I've written it all down....." Mail the letter to the child. It will not be deleted; it will not be tossed away; it will be kept. Its message will stick. Always."
In one of those care packages, you might want to include a small portfolio or letter box in which your college student can store the letters you will write, the letters you will write from your heart and that you will send without any unrealistic expectations about receiving letters in return (because you remember what it's like to be young and busy.)
Happy letter writing!
(Clip art courtesy of http://www.freeclipartnow.com)