How To Maintain Relationships in College

Shortly after my daughter was born my mother said to me “You know, the minute they are born you begin preparing them to leave.” At the time it was difficult to envision that tiny being going anywhere without me and yet I knew my mother was right. After all, hadn’t I grown up and left home? Hadn’t my mother once looked at me and thought, or hoped, that wasn’t going to happen?

Well, we all know it does happen, it is supposed to happen and here I am now with my oldest daughter, a senior in high school, and we are fast approaching the jumping off point.

Not only will she be leaving her parents and sister, but also a her steady boyfriend of four years. So, how will we all handle it? How will our relationships change and grow. How do we let go and still hold on? To give myself something to focus on beyond “goodbye”

I have been thinking about ways for us to stay connected.

Parents and Siblings

  • Stay in Touch; use all the wonderful technology that is available. E-mail, Texting, Facebook and Twitter are all wonderful tools for staying connected in a way that is quick and convenient. When time allows for more extended visits there is always the telephone, but even better, Skype, and Skype is free. Schedule regular times for more extended conversations and make sure your college student knows they may still call you anytime of the day or night and that you will always be available.
  • Send Snail Mail; letters, cards, little gifts, postcards and care packages will all be welcomed. We all love to get snail mail. There is something comforting about having something to hold in your hands that was sent by a loved one.
  • Schedule Visits; plan times when you can go and visit your college student. Be sure they know it is OK to let you know if it is not a good time for a visit due to homework demands, finals, or work schedule. Having visits planned will give you all something to look forward to.
  • Siblings; encourage your college student to communicate directly with siblings and let them know that younger siblings may feel a bit abandoned when they leave for college. Encourage younger siblings to communicate with your college student and provide help in doing so if it is needed.

Romantic Relationships

  • Be on the same page; have a heart to heart with your significant other and be sure you are each equally committed to maintaining your relationship long distance. Be sure you have the same expectations of one another and that you know the rules. Agree not to get yourselves into difficult or tempting situations.
  • Have a plan; know how long you will be apart. Just for this year, or longer. When will you be able to live in the same town again? Knowing this will help you stay committed.
  • Stay busy; do not spend your time wishing the phone would ring. Do well in school, make friend, join a club, volunteer, stay busy. These things will help the time pass more quickly.
  • Go on technology dates; agree on a specific time to chat, hopefully via Skype. Get dressed up, look your best, be romantic. Make it important.
  • Schedule in person visits; become familiar with your significant others friends and community. You will feel more connected and have more to talk about.
  • Trust, trust, and more trust; a long term commitment will not survive mistrust. Be positive and assume your significant other loves you, misses you, and is committed to your relationship.

Success with any long distance relationship requires effort, but with planning, commitment, and communication it is certainly possible and worthwhile. Now, I have to go and be sure I have enough tissue so I am prepared when it is actually time to say “goodbye.”

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