In the first few weeks after my kids left home they rang all the time. 'Mum, how do you make fajitas?' 'Can you send my old history notes now?' I admit it gave me a smug kind of glow - See? you do need me after all.
But it didn't last. After the first few weeks - silence. Because I didn't want to be an interfering mother, I only rang if I got worried. My husband would occasionally call them about booking QPR tickets. Looking back that might have been a mistake: perhaps they thought we didn't care.
Should you speak every day?
Of course all parents are different. Increasingly parents expect to hear from their kids every day, especially in the early weeks. One mum I spoke to got tearful and anxious if she didn't get her late-night text from her daughter to say she'd got home safely.
That's one of the downsides of FaceTime/ WhatsApp/ Snapchat and the rest. It's so easy to communicate these days, so when you don't hear you imagine the worst.
The hardest thing for parents at this stage is letting our kids make their own mistakes.
The phone's no substitute for a hug
Anyway the phone's no substitute for a hug - for just clapping your eyes on your precious son or daughter and seeing how they really are.Because it's hard to tell how they're doing from the phone. Kids tend to ring their parents when they're feeling blue. One minute they're in floods of tears down the phone, but within hours they're off with mates, feeling a lot better. The trouble is, you don't know that.
Be reassured by what students sayOne of the students I interviewed for my book, Rebecca, was very reassuring:
'Parents shouldn't take it personally when their kids don't call, because at university you're running around so much that you can only remember to do things which are right in from of your face.
Whenever my parents called me I would always feel really chuffed, partly because they didn't ring all the time, unlike some of my friends' parents who rang every single day and always knew what they were doing. When my parents called it meant a lot - just knowing they were thinking about me.'
- Don't expect a call or text every day. Letting go means you have to back off. That can be hard at first - painfully hard, sometimes.
- It's hard at first, but have faith in your child and it will get easier.
- If he/she never rings, agree on a regular time once or twice a week which suits you both.
- If you're worried by not hearing from them, tell them how you feel.
- Ask for the phone number of one of their close friends - but use only in emergencies!
- Take the lead from your son or daughter. Some kids like a chat once a week, some ring every day.
- Ignore other parents who go on about how their son/daughter rings all the time for long chats!
- Don't forget that not ringing is probably a good sign: they're having a great time.