In the February 2010 E-Cat, we asked Linfield parents to tell us about their communication with their students. Here are their responses (edited for space).
1. How often do you communicate with your student?
Multiple times a day (6.4%)
Once a day (10%)
2-5 times a week (60%)
Once a week (16.4%)
2. Please rank your top three modes of communication, with "1" as the most frequent.
3. What advice would you offer parents of freshmen about communicating with their students?
Keep in touch. Ask the obscure questions.
Freshmen - Even though they seem like they are doing okay at school and being away from home for really the first time, you should check in on them. I held off calling more than I should have. I finally discovered that my freshman was very homesick.
A least a weekly call and scheduled. Never daily or worse multiple times per day. Students need to have some control and learn to be independent
I tried hard to allow my freshman to take the lead in our communicating by letting her be the one to call. Halfway through the year she told her grandma (my mom) that I didn't miss her because I wasn't calling her. So much for thinking that she needed to take the lead. I finally sat her down and asked how much was too much? Well to my surprise she wanted to be missed and called. Ask your student what they want and how they want you to handle it. My daughter is now a junior and we talk all the time, we have truly become great friends through her college days. Relax and enjoy, it goes by so quick!
Be available, but respect their independence and give them lots of space.
Let the student set the pace for communication - don't smother them. And don't lurk on Facebook. It's embarrassing when mom "likes" every status update.
Keep in touch with the student. No matter what we have the Sunday call which works great.
Do not over communicate, but do not wait too long
Be there for them, but don't monopolize their time.
Communicate as much as possible. If your student is big on texting, text everyday. If they would rather talk on the talk as much as you can without smothering them. They want to be adults, but they still want to know they can communicate with their parents.
Don't be pushy. Use the communication method he/she prefers. My Linfield son texts, (and occasionally calls), my OSU son e-mails (and occasionally visits). Wait for your son/daughter to initiate the contact unless there is something pressing. If 1-2 weeks goes by and there hasn't been a message, I usually send a short text to my son just to let him know I'm thinking of him and he usually texts or calls right back.
E-mail, "call when you can."
Communication is a personal issue between parents and students. Our family is big on communication and feels great when we talk frequently. I do not believe that is needed by every student, just those who have grown up with it that way. Don't second guess yourselves, if you need to hear their voice, call and encourage your student to do the same. It takes only a moment.
Depends on the student and the parents. Our daughter is often at home and/or doing errands for our farm, etc. because we live so close.
We like to text as it's kind of like having a mini-conversation about something spur of the moment. It's not as intrusive as a phone call, but lets them know that you are thinking about them.
Depends on the student, the parents, and their relationship. Parents worry, so communicating enough not to worry is critical. Students and parents must share that responsibility. However, students want independence, so ideally parents negotiate with the student to keep them informed about specific matters, then, communicating more is nice. I think it is a major deficiency on the part of Linfield that parents do not have a faculty member to contact who can report how the student is doing: academically, health, socially, etc. We are not told who the adviser is, nor given an email address. I think this sets up situations that causes parents unnecessary anxiety and does not recognize the reality that students can be irresponsible in communicating with their parents. I think Linfield needs to trust that parents and the student are adults and can establish a symbiotic relationship without compromising the student's independence. Providing parents with someone to access for a reading on the well-being of their child is proper. Parents deserve equal priority with their children.
Let them contact you - unless you need to talk to them. If they aren't communicating - then reach out. Don't feel bad if they only call when they need something!
Your first year daughter or son will want to talk to you! They will be eager to share, and need reassurance that you are still there for them (even if they won't say so). Be open and listen, and tell your child that you know they have the tools to deal with the big changes of being at college.
Do more listening than talking. Be supportive but don't try to "fix" things. Help them develop problem solving skills and take on the responsibility of dealing with the problems that arise as part being on their own.
Do what works for you.
Let them make the first move to feel out what they are wanting. They do like mail, so send card and letters for a little something to brighten their day!
Don't be clingy. They WILL call if they need you. Don't talk or ask questions just listen.
Allow your student to initiate contact with you, unless you need to reach her/him for a specific reason. Send care packages!
Expect a lot less communication than you would like to have
Follow your child's lead.
Let your student contact you. You get the most out of your contact if they initiate it. Don't hover.
For parents who live outside the U.S. set up an online phone service. We found that T-mobile does not have good reception at Linfield so go with AT&T or Verizon. Therefore, we had to return the original mobile phone we purchased and cancel the contract and go with a different provider. Overseas parents also need to be warned to get the mobile phone services directly from the phone line provider not a contract group. The whole idea of having to pay for mobile phone calls you make and receive was quite foreign to us. Since the U.S. phone companies seem to function very differently than in other countries information like this would have been helpful to us.
Let the student set the pace. It is hard at first, but once they get adjusted they are in regular contact.
Let the student take the initiative . . .
FYI -- We communicate most often through Skype
Do drop your kids a line. You talked to them before and in this world of social networking it is perfectly alright to let them know that they occupy your thoughts from time to time during the day. Your student may not instantly, or ever respond to that message. That's alright, you did it, and they will love you for it.
Let them initiate the calls.
Give your child space to manage their own life.
Let your student set the pace; One 30-minute connection a week tends to be more personal than several shorter ones; trusting their independence and choices as a young adult is huge; Always let them settle their differences with faculty, housing, etc (the one exception may be money issues with the registrar).
Give your student some space but be there for them when they need you.
I say stay in touch at least 1 time per day. No more
I think it is important to give your freshman student their opportunity to experience their growing independence and self-reliance. However, I believe it is equally important to remind them that they are not alone on their life's journey and that they are still connected to the part of their life--which is their family at home. Most of my communication with my daughter is just to keep her apprised of what we are doing. Obviously, I am also offering her encouragement and positive reinforcement for her embracing the opportunities that she now has -- as a member of the Linfield campus community.
I try not to ask how classes are going or if they are studying. That way they don't avoid calls. It seems like it just comes out or I can figure it out since the lines of communication are open.
Email is a great way to communicate. Other advice: let them work through their own problems; Be a good listener
I understand that freshmen want to be out on their own, but it's also important to keep in touch with their parents. My parents encouraged the habit of calling home each Sunday.
We didn't talk for a long time; it was just to keep up with what had happened during the past week. This habit continued after college throughout my adult life until my parents passed away. My husband and I have helped our daughter ('11) to keep up this habit since she began attending Linfield. We look forward to Sundays!
If you live close enough, visit a couple times each month--take your child to lunch, grocery shopping, or go for a walk. Nothing beats a face to face visit.
Just be there for them, but let them grow and mature...
Just do! They say not to, but they really enjoy and need you to communicate with them.
Keep it short and simple.
Learn how to use text messaging, the most unobtrusive way to get my daughter to talk to me
Learn to text
Less is more
Let the student figure out how, when and how often communication will occur. Initially, use written communication so that the student can respond when they want to.
Pick one day a week to call, for example, "Sundays are the days when you talk to your mom." No argument, no fuss.
Let the student initiate the communication and decide how frequently . . . They have a busy schedule to manage!
Let the student make the calls
Try to be as sensitive as possible to how much your student wants to communicate and go with that. Also, texting seems to be the most acceptable form of communication for boys.
Let them call you . . .
Texting is nice, because it's quick and easy for them. Often I'll text my son to call me when it is convenient or asap if it is important.
Let them fly and they will come home.
Let your child grow and mature into the young adult with Linfield’s help. Let him/her learn the independence and self-management of time and money. Do not step in every time your child calls and asks for help. Linfield has done a good job molding its students to be good citizens; therefore, please trust them with your child(ren).
Let your kids initiate contact with you . . . but do check in every few weeks or so.
Texting we found is the most non invasive way to touch base
They like to use text, email and facebook to communicate.
Let your student contact you the first time after you drop them off for their freshman year, it will happen sooner than you think.
Stay in contact and offer support. Freshman year the new students can get side-tracked by sports and social.
Texting is the best way to communicate with your student without being too invasive.
Although we don't have a lot of experience yet, I would say to let the student set the tone. Let them have the time and space to adjust to their new life and let them set the limits of how much contact they need. Always stay open to communication ideas.
Listen, Listen, Listen . . . then advise . . . let the decisions be theirs.
Sign up for a Skype account for you and your student.
Live with what you get -- it's been very disappointing not hearing from them. But that's the way it is.
Love them and trust them and encourage them. Ask questions that need more than one sentence to answer.
Make sure they have unlimited texting on their phone plan.
Don't overdo it
My son and I are very close and what I found was that the first 5-8 weeks, everything was very new to him, so I would instigate a call once a week if I had not heard from him. As he settled into a routine he normally calls me once every couple days on his way to/from class, lunch, etc. Don't be offended if they don't take time out of their schedule when they first arrive, they will get into a routine. But texting is great. A 2-second - "how is your day" goes a long way with keeping in touch without bogging your student down.
None, I'm confident they know their child better than anyone else and will do just fine with this transition.
Ours is a freshman
Pay attention to their needs, often unspoken. We are communicating more 2nd term because we learned that our daughter wasn't feeling as connected to or supported by us as she wanted to be.
Set up a mutual "get back to you" time allowance (emails by the next day, texts in 2 hrs, etc.). Knowing that she'll get back to me within that time frame helps me worry less.
A note by snail mail with a treat or snack is the best communicator. Don't call too often but check in at least once a week, if only a text.
Something that Dave Hansen recommended when we were parents of a freshman was to let the student initiate most of the contact. That was good advice.
Listen to what Professor Dave Hansen said in his opening speech on orientation day. He really hit the nail on the head. Great advice!! It is important to let you child call you . . . even when you want to desperately call. Your refraining will make them more independent. Important to remember to always be positive when they call . . . don't let them hear bad news or complaining from your end.
Be in contact enough to feel comfortable that you know they are OK, but (like Archie Bunker used to say to Edith) "stifle yourself" from constant contact. They need to learn to be on their own!!
Stay as cool as you can. You'll over-communicate at first, but you can replace that with postal mail (they like that) and parcel post (goodies and things they forgot). But it's OK, they still love you. Remember when you were in college, you had to go out in the hall and talk on the community telephone . . . and that only happened MAYBE once a week or less . . . so just keep that in mind. You didn't want to talk to your parents either!
Stay constant and learn their favorite style of communicating.
Let them know you are there for them and that they can call you at anytime for anything, you will listen, but give them plenty of time and space to spread their wings. They need to discover how strong they are and how they can manage on their own and depend on themselves and their dorm mates.
Text -- a student will answer/read a text anywhere/anytime, where as answering the phone OR listening to a message probably will not happen. I let my 2 college students call me at their convenience.
Learn to text - it seems to be the preferred method of communication for this generation and, therefore, the gateway to maintaining good communications.
Try and let the student initiate contact. If you do call, keep it short!
Let the student contact the parent(s). I don't think the parent should be the ones to contact the student (about day-to-day things; of course you need to about logistics of vacations, etc).
Most important have a cell phone number of their closest friend on campus
Try to curb your impulse to call/text frequently. Talking once a week will let them know you care, while allowing them time and space to develop new relationships. There are other ways to reassure yourself your student is still alive and well - check Facebook, their bank balance, etc.
Don't call constantly - give your child space to find his or her place in this new environment. They'll contact you when necessary.
Don't worry if your student needs to be in touch with you a lot the first year - it generally doesn't mean they aren't doing okay but just wanting the support
Try to limit to just once a week. Sure, there will be times when you may want to talk more often but aim for once a week.
Let them contact you! Ask if a phone call or Skype once a week is OK
Wait until they call you! Don't bug them!