Help with Homesick Daughter

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Help with Homesick Daughter
By Anngold (Anngold) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:39 am: Edit

I took my daughter to college last week. We live on the West coast and her college is in Ohio, so we flew. I stayed three days to help set up her room and get her situated. She had been looking forward to going away to college for so long, but over the summer she met in her words, "the love of my life". Now all she wants to do is come home and be with him. I sympathize, but I want her to give this college a chance. Does anyone have advice to share to help us through this? What can I say or do to encourage her to stick it out at college? Thanks.

By Blossom (Blossom) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

This too shall pass?

Not much you can do other than being there for her and giving her the message that you love her and you support her and that you are confident that she will adjust and thrive in her new home if she gives it half a chance. You can also remind her of all the other adjustments she's successfully made in life, and remind her that she's got so many fantastic opportunities ahead of her.

I think the hometown BF/GF thing is a useful crutch for some kids... helps ease the transition, whereas for others it really prevents them from being "in the moment" while they should be starting to meet new people and get involved in new stuff. It's too early to decide which of these categories your daughter falls into, so just be warm and supportive and validate her feelings, without feeding her homesickness.

As you probably know, most of these relationships don't make it through Thanksgiving, so just try to get her to keep her head above water for the next few weeks until rationality kicks in!

By Demingy (Demingy) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 12:05 pm: Edit

Blossom mentioned being supportive w/o feeding your daughter's homesickness. I think this is very good advice. Maybe you can ask her a lot of questions about her life at college--try to help her see some of the new and exciting things she has going on.

Sorry, that is the only advice I have--Blossom said it really well.

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 12:40 pm: Edit

Actually, school starts slow, so your D probably has plenty of time to brood. Remind her that she needs to focus on settling down both academically and socially. She can keep in touch with b/f through a variety of means. If it's serious, it will last a few weeks'absence (and if not, it won't).

By Bookiemom (Bookiemom) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:28 pm: Edit

I went through this last fall with my D. She is in college in Colorado; we are in Seattle, as is her boyfriend. They had been together for almost a year when she went to college. (He was a senior in high school when she was a freshman in college.) She just returned for her sophomore year and she and the boyfriend are still together.

She was dreadfully homesick for the first month last fall. Her 18th birthday was the first week. Labor Day weekend everyone went home; she was almost alone on her dorm floor. Her roommate had a boyfriend there at college and was with him all the time and talked about him constantly. The dorm food was bad. And on and on. The first two weeks she talked about transferring and said she hated the college and town and wasn't staying.

These things helped: I sent frequent cards and packages with treats, extra food, holiday surprises. We increased her phone plan so she could call us and the boyfriend whenever she wanted. We let her fly home for a weekend in Oct. (also Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and Easter). I told her she could transfer if she wanted to. I very seldom called her, but let her call me.

Everything improved by the second semester. She had classes that she liked; she found two little part-time jobs on campus; she had her first part in a play. Now this year she is in a house off-campus with four other girls and has a car there. A year ago I never would have believed that she would be back for her sophomore year. And in fact, this summer and on the drive to college, she was again reluctant to go back. Again, it was hard to leave everything here: her good job, her boyfriend, our dogs, her family.

Transitions are hard. This particular difficulty might not just be about the boyfriend, but about the whole adjustment in general.

My advice is to be very understanding, supportive, listen a lot, be sort of vague about the possibility of transferring, encourage her to give it at least a semester before judging too harshly.

By Anngold (Anngold) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:43 pm: Edit

Blossom, Demingy, and Marite,
Thanks for the advice. It helps just talking about it. I have been doing the things you say and hoping it's enough. Time will tell I guess.

By Anngold (Anngold) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:48 pm: Edit

Bookiemom - It's good to hear from someone who has been through this and survived. It sounds like your daughter has made the adjustment and I hope my daughter will also. I think it's just the whole being so far from home thing made all the worse by the boyfriend issue. I got her a cell phone with free long distance, no roaming charges and text messaging so she can call or message often. I also bought her and her boyfriend calling cards so they can use those when needed. He is supposed to visit her for a long weekend in October and she will be coming home for Thanksgiving, so hopefully that will be enough. I'll take your advice and send care packages often. Thanks.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 02:23 pm: Edit

Anngold -- I would also be worried about the BF issue. Do you know if he is also encouraging her, as you are, to make the most of the college experience? That would be helpful if he is doing that.

On a humorous note, which I hope won't offend you or anyone else, I remember last year someone referred to the "turkey drop," i.e., the tradition of high school romances ending by Thanksgiving of freshman year!

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 02:24 pm: Edit

Bookiemom-- it sounds like you were very supportive while not contributing to her negativity, something which isn't always easy to do. I'm glad it has worked out so well for her.

By Enjoyingthis (Enjoyingthis) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:50 pm: Edit

Isn't this called "dropping anchor?" The tradition of falling in love with someone at home just before taking off for college.

I've watched it happen in my own family. The thing is, sometimes those relationships last. My brother fell in love with the girl next door (almost literally) just before going off to college. They ended up getting married before he was through and celebrated 29 years yesterday. His son pulled the same trick, going off to a nice LAC, leaving the new girlfriend behind and then she went to a different school. He was driving home every weekend all through school, to hear them tell it. They got married right after graduation. My husband's brother so missed his high school sweetheart that he transferred to her school after a year at a different one. They celebrated 30 years of marriage last month.

I know we always want our kids to be thinking about their education and not basing their decisions on these relationships, but it seems like in only a few years, the parents are wishing the kids WOULD pair up and settle down. Relationships are important, too, so I think you have to just try to be supportive and let the kid make the decisions in the end. It's possible this IS the love of her life and only the timing is inconvenient.

In fairness, I should point out that I'm saying this as a parent of kids who don't seem to fall in love as easily as some others, so my take on this might be a bit different! Also, maybe I'm hopelessly romantic!

By Tsdad (Tsdad) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 05:52 pm: Edit

He hit the wall last year in October. "I don't know anybody. I don't have any friends. I don't like LA." We brought him back to VA in early November for a long weekend. Problem solved.

This year he couldn't wait to get back, and left home two weeks before school was scheduled to start.

Don't worry. It will be ok.

By Mezzomom (Mezzomom) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 09:50 am: Edit

I remember my bout of homesickness my freshman year. I was totally unprepared for it, since I had spent summers away from home for years. But I started believing that I was never going to have close friends (patience has never been my strong suit!) and that I was going to be alone and lonely forever. Two things helped me through this period; I spent an entire day in the dorm kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies and then delivered plates of cookies to people I wanted to get to know better. (Since the entire dorm also smelled like baking cookies, I met a lot of people from my dorm who came to investigate the aroma!) And the next weekend, my parents came for Parents' Weekend which was the reminder of home that I needed. For whatever reason, my homesickness just evaporated after that.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:22 pm: Edit

I don't have any sage advice, but this question did come up during the engineering orientation for parents at Tulane this last weekend. The assoc. dean for students was asked if anyone had ever quit or failed because of homesickness due to a new BF or GF. He had never had one actually admit to that, but he did adress the homesickness issue. His observation was that cell phones and computers had made the transition much easier for most kids. They call home and can IM with family members several times a day - compared to the weekly phone calls back in our day. However, if you think that this has gone beyond the homesickness thing and she's not adjusting and it looks like her first semester is at risk, perhaps contacting one of her advisors is in order. It's so early in the semester, though, that I'm crossing my fingers for her that she will ease on into college life. Whether or not her boyfriend is in the picture long term or not remains to be seen. I think if he is the love of her life and if he feels the same, he will encourage her to give her new school that chance.

Some of the posts on this thread are very insightful. I think Ann and Abby have some pretty stiff competition!

By Anngold (Anngold) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:40 am: Edit

Rhonda - The BF started out whining about how much he missed her and wanted her to come back home, but I pointed out that he was making the adjustment hard for her and he has since been encouraging her to make the most of college.

Enjoyingthis - My D also is a kid who does not fall in love easily. She has spent years fending off advances, so that's what worries me about this relationship. If it's meant to be, I'm fine with it, but I still want her to get through college first.

Tsdad - The BF is planning to visit in mid-October and D will be home for five days over Thanksgiving, so maybe that will be enough. There is a Parents Weekend in early October that I wasn't planning to attend, but I may need to rethink that.

Mezzomom - You gave me an idea. My D is fond of chocolate chip cookies so I think I'll bake some with extra love and send them to her. That should help to lift her spirits.

Alongfortheride - I think it is just homesickness and she'll get over it. Her emails and calls include news of making a few new friends and liking certain classes and professors, so that's a good indicator that she is beginning to settle in I think. At this point it seems that it is just a matter of time as others have suggested.

Thanks everyone for the sage advice.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit

Anngold, I'm glad to here that your daughter is settling in.

By Bookiemom (Bookiemom) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 02:49 pm: Edit

Anngold: one thing I forgot to mention about having the BF back home is really an advantage, I have come to believe. That is, the student away at college, while missing the BF, is actually more free to concentrate on her studies! She isn't spending endless hours hanging out with a new BF on-campus, putting her energy into that. I found this to be the case with my D. When she is at college, she is very busy there with her classes and activities, and when she is home, she is working at her job and with her BF.

Another thing, her BF didn't want her to attend college parties. He was very worried about too much drinking and her safety. Her college made a huge issue about women students' safety on campus, especially at parties. While my D and the BF needed to work through this so that she felt comfortable attending some parties (with kids she knows from her major), in some ways it was a good thing (and made me feel a little better as a mom) to know that she wasn't doing any wild partying.

By Tsdad (Tsdad) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:16 pm: Edit

Good. I hope things are working out.

So far this year he's calling us four or five times a day to report all the great things that are happening. I'm very pleased for him.

By Anngold (Anngold) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:48 pm: Edit

BookieMom - I hadn't looked at it that way, but I can see the advantages of having the BF at home while D's at college. Thanks for the insight.

By Cbreeze (Cbreeze) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 11:07 pm: Edit

Anngold - Please do try to attend Parents' Weekend. It's really important to go and support your D. You don't want her to feel left out because everyone else' parents will be there and taking their kids out to dinner. You can meet all her friends plus their parents.
Our son went to school in Pennyslvania and we live in California. We've made it to every Parents'Weekend for four years and yes he came home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring break all four years also.

By Momz (Momz) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:42 pm: Edit

Okay, I'm new here though I've been reading posts for some time.
I too have a daughter who seems homesick. We moved her into her dorm last sunday. Berkeley, about 5 hours away from home. I think it's friends she misses most. BF left for school in June to Naval Accad. Don't know how that will end up. D says she "Hates it here". Didn't tell me posted to friends and sister who is one year behind her. Do I acknowledge her feelings or continue being upbeat etc. Any advice?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:44 pm: Edit

Momz -- I would continue being upbeat, but is it also possible to acknowledge her feelings? I assume she did not forbid sister/friends from telling you she "hates it," so would it be appropriate to mention to your D that her sister/friends have said she doesn't like it, is there anything she wants to talk with you about, maybe you can make some suggestions.

Berkeley is a GREAT school, IMO. I hope she will settle in soon and make new friends. The most common suggestion to those having trouble making friends is to get involved in something (anything).

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:53 pm: Edit

The five students on the Parents Orientation Panel at my daughter's college Tuesday offered some insight into the complaining, homesick phone calls. They pointed out that it is usually just a comfortable way for the student to "vent" some steam -- comfortable because they can feel free to gripe to Mom in a way that might not be cool to gripe to dormmates.

They suggested that this venting makes the parents feel awful, but relieves a lot of stress for the kids who can then walk back into the dorm social scene all chipper and happy go lucky.

In any case, the students all agreed that the really important part of college is learning how to stop being a child and start becoming an adult and that this kind of homesickness is a common part of that transition.

By Momz (Momz) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 02:08 pm: Edit

Thanks so much. It helps just knowing others get through this. I hope that when classes start next week and D doesn't have so much down time to focus on missing friends etc. she'll do better. She is adjusting to being with two chinese roomates who are quiet where as she's blond and likes punk rock. Should be a learning experience for us all.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 02:26 pm: Edit

>> She is adjusting to being with two chinese roomates who are quiet where as she's blond and likes punk rock.

Sounds like a recipe for a bit of a legitimate adjustment period to me!

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 02:42 pm: Edit

>>She is adjusting to being with two chinese roomates who are quiet where as she's blond and likes punk rock.>>

41 years on, my H's college freshman roommate still claims that it was my H who introduced him to classical music. He'd been a rock and roll fan in high school. Last year, the roommate began taking piano lessons for the first time in his life. Eschewing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," he started with a Bach partita, as better fitted his advanced years.

May be the two quiet roommates and the punk rock fan will bond just as well.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 02:50 pm: Edit

>> May be the two quiet roommates and the punk rock fan will bond just as well.

Absolutely. But, it does sound like all three roommates will have to undergo a period of change to arrive at a common place. Doesn't sound like the makings of an instant match.

My daughter and her new roommate were exchanging lengthy, humorous e-mails over the past week or two. So, they clearly acted like friends when they first met and took off to do all the registration/check-in errands. I know that goes a long way towards making those first few days comfortable.

Cutest moment when roommate and her mom arrived while we were busy unpacking my daughter's junk:

Roommate looks at daughter's junk on bookcase and excitely proclaims: " brought a lint roller!"

By Bookiemom (Bookiemom) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:00 pm: Edit

Momz: as I stated in previous posts, my D hated her college at first. She was actively planning her transfer for the first month or so. It took her quite a while to make friends and get used to things, but it improved a lot after the first month. (She still doesn't have "great" friends there, not like her BF and hometown best friend.) My D was also away from her BF, which was hard. This would be even harder for your D, since she probably can't even talk to her BF very often.

I sent my D lots of treats and cards and packages, listened to all her woes and complaints (trying to be understanding, supportive, but also pointing out positives and not dwelling on the negative) in her daily phone calls, let her come home to visit. She adjusted during that first semester and learned a lot. Now she appreciates her home and hometown a lot more!

By Momz (Momz) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit

Bookiemom: Thanks. I sent off a care package with some of her favorite treats yesterday. Also enjoyed a "Hallmark" moment. Reading cards and imagining her reading them. Ended up buying several cards to send over time. As for BF, now that his plebe summer is over he has phone and computer use again. D wants to plan a weekend visit to Annapolis but with her at Berkeley I don't know how feasible that is.

By Valpal (Valpal) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 03:29 am: Edit

My daughter is in a three room quad with three other girls, all Asian: one Chinese and two Koreans. They seem to be hitting it off just fine now. I got the impression that all of them are a bit on the shy side (D certainly is) when it comes to meeting new people. But they warmed up to one another pretty quickly and do everything together at this point. It will be very interesting to observe how the dynamics of the group change over time. Hopefully, they will all become close and supportive friends, which always helps when you're under stress and living the dorm life.

By Bxian (Bxian) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 10:17 am: Edit

To ease my D into college life, I sent her mail using the theme "The 12 Days Of College" (much like the "12 Days of Christmas"). I believe I originally got the idea from this board. I am in the process of sending 12 small packages to my D at school-I timed it so that the first 1-4 would be there when she arrived. The items I sent were small and inexpensive-gummy worms (her favorite!), Wendy's coupon book, bubble gum, a free shampoo sample that came in the mail, etc. Each envelope said "Do not open until the first day of college, the second day of college, etc." They seemed to brighten her day-she called yesterday (her 2nd day at school) to thank me-she SWEARS that even though she received envelopes 1 through 4 when she checked her mailbox, she had not yet opened the envelopes for days 3 and 4 because it was not day 3 or 4 yet:)

By Socalmom (Socalmom) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 07:34 pm: Edit

Momz, I have a daughter that I left at Cal last weekend also. She seems to be having a blast, it is so nice to have free long distance on the cell phones as I have spoken with her everyday, sometimes twice a day this week. She is fortunate to be rooming with a close friend, and both her and her roomate are very friendly. I do think that things will get better for your daughter after Monday when classes start. I think that a whole "week" of welcome week was too much. Hang in there.

By Momz (Momz) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 09:11 pm: Edit

Socalmom: nice to hear your daughter is having a blast. My D did not know anyone comming to Cal until Spring. Most of her friends chose UCLA and haven't started yet so she feels left out. She is doing ok so far and is making an effort to get involved. I agree tomorrow when classes start will be good for her. Where is your D living? Mine is in Foothill. Thanks for positive message.

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