The Iglu Guide | Blog

Phoning home – how often is often enough?

There are a few phrases you’re likely to overhear among the student community, particularly at the start of the academic year. They can vary between: ‘Yes, I’m eating enough’ and ‘Yes, I have met some friends’ to ‘Yes, I am doing my washing’ and ‘Yes, I am OK’. But they usually always end with the same, ‘Love you too, Mum!’

It makes sense that parents want to know how it’s all going when they send their child off in to the big wide world, but what do they really expect once you’re out there? We asked some Iglu parents for their point of view and put together this helpful guide.

What’s changed?

Once you head to uni and move away from home, that regular parental contact you once took for granted immediately changes. Maybe you’ve been waiting for this moment forever, or perhaps the adjustment will be a little harder. There are no hard and fast rules around what is expected from you – much of that will depend on the relationship you have shared up until this point. But prepare for a period of adjustment on both sides. Until everyone is at peace with the new set-up, your parents will probably expect to hear from you regularly enough to know that you are still breathing, and everything is OK!

Isn’t this the time when I become fully independent?

Many students think that now they have moved out they should be managing everything on their own. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Helping resolve issues, talking through situations without judgement – this is exactly what family support is for. It might be a simple 5-minute chat, or a 2-hour deep and meaningful – most importantly, parents just want to know that you’re safe and well. There is no perfect schedule to meet, just do what works for your individual relationship.

Can’t I just touch base when I need something?

Well, you can try that route and see where it takes you. Many parents will generally agree that reaching out only when you need help – probably after a prolonged silence – is probably not the most thoughtful action. It can be hurtful to feel like the bank of Mum and Dad. Plus they are more likely to dig deep when needed if they feel a part of your life and involved in the process along the way.

Will a text suffice?

Texts are a great way to keep in regular touch no matter where you are in the world. Perfect for letting someone know you are thinking about them, they are handy for a quick hello, a short and sweet message, or to share a memory. A simple ‘goodnight’ can really make someone’s day. As great as they are, a text will never fully replace that important verbal interaction. Video calls or phone calls are the closest you can really get to being together while you’re apart, and they mean so much more to parents. It’s an opportunity for the full download with someone who supports you, and cares about you unconditionally.

But I’m so busy with work and friends – it’s hard to find the time

That’s where sending the odd text message can really come in handy. And not having your parents immediately on hand means that when you do get to make that phone call, you actually have stuff to talk to them about. Whatever time period you decide works best for your family, try and schedule it in as a regular event. And if for some reason you can’t make it, a quick message to explain or reschedule shows that they are still in your thoughts. Parents prefer to know that their children are making the most of university life, than sitting around waiting to call home. It’s all about getting that balance right – and managing expectations appropriately.

What’s the upside?

Distance really can make the heart grow fonder, and moving away from home gives you a chance to properly miss your parents and family. The level of conversation is vastly different to past days, where a monosyllabic ‘good’ was all that was required when asked about your school day. As you leave home and progress further into adulthood, the relationship evolves into one based on mutual respect and understanding. Students can now relate to their parents’ life experiences and enjoy more in-depth discussions and conversations. From academic studies and global affairs to relationships and beyond, parents can be a great sounding board. And, like it or not, they have been there and done that already – which means there’s a lot of untapped advice just waiting to be asked.

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