Dear Abby: I have to respond to your reply to “Tammi’s Mom in N.J.” (June 21), whose daughter won’t answer her texts at college. Our daughter, “Jill,” attended college 12 hours from home. She would text me almost every day — short, sweet messages always ending with “Luv U, XOXO.” I looked forward to those texts because they were a lifeline to my daughter.
Tammi’s Mom is coping with empty nest syndrome, which no child can understand until she experiences it one day herself. Thankfully, Jill knew how much her texts meant to me. They got me through four long years without her. I hope Tammi sees this and appreciates that she has a mom who isn’t smothering her, but who loves and cares about her.
In Johnstown, Pa.
Dear Remembering: Thank you for sharing. I stressed to Tammi’s Mom that her daughter is growing up and trying to establish independence. However, readers were quick to point out that Tammi still owes her mother the courtesy of keeping in touch:
Dear Abby: When I was away at college, many students expected their parents to pay their tuition and living expenses, but stay out of their lives. Tammi’s Mom said she’d be happy with a call or text every two or three days. I don’t think that is unreasonable.
I have lived several hundred miles away from my family for 10 years now. I enjoy a great deal of independence, but I know it worries my parents to have me so far away. I call them every day or two. These quick phone calls (usually only five minutes) help them see that I’m safe and happy, and also allow me to remain emotionally close to my family, even though I’m not geographically close.
Abby, asking for a quick text, which takes only a few moments, is NOT “helicopter parenting.”
Dear Abby: To Tammi’s Mom, I say — it’s time to get a life! Do things now that you’ve always wanted to do. If you’re married, find things in common again. Sometimes when we raise our kids, we can become consumed with their wants and needs, and our marriages suffer.
Take up a new hobby and let your baby bird spread her wings. She’ll thank you for it and will WANT to call you when you stop calling or texting every day. If you get yourself busy, you’ll spend less time sitting by the phone.
Knows from Experience
Dear Abby: Until recently, I had two children in college — one close to home, the other several hours away. Unfortunately, there is so much violence everywhere today and kids are vulnerable to it, especially around many colleges and universities.
Kids send hundreds of text messages a day to their friends. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for an occasional text from your child to make sure he or she is indeed safe.
In Bloomsbury, N.J.
Dear Abby: When my daughter left for college, I told her I was not going to call her because I didn’t want to intrude on her new life, but that I would be happy to talk to her anytime she called me. Doing this empowered my somewhat rebellious girl by putting HER in charge. As a result, she would call me several times a week and our relationship was strengthened.
Dear Abby: While I was away at college, my dad was like Tammi’s Mom, and it drove me nuts. So we compromised. Every Sunday morning at 9, Dad and I would talk on the phone. That way he could catch up on my week and know I was OK. Mom needs to give her daughter space.
Dear Abby: If Tammi’s Mom is paying for her daughter’s phone, the girl should answer when Mom calls. I told my daughter if she ever ignored my calls or texts again, I would have her phone turned off. We chat a lot now.
Dad Who Pays
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.