It's Friday night. We're in your dorm talking about this week's problem set, tonight's party, and everything else going on in our lives, when your phone vibrates on your desk.
"Oh, it's just my Mom," you say while shrugging and hitting ignore. I frown and say nothing. It's not that I'm judging you for not talking to your Mom—maybe you just don't feel like talking, or it's awkward because I'm in the room, or there's some other reason.
Okay, so maybe I am judging you.
Calling your parents is about more than assuring them that you're dressing warm enough and keeping up in class. It's about keeping people who are important to you involved in your life. Many students chat regularly with friends from high school that they see only a couple times a year. Ask them why they invest so much energy into group chats and FaceTime sessions and they'll say something along the lines of, "I don't want to lose touch with people that were so important to me," "We have so many memories together," or "I love my friends at BC, but I've known these people forever."
In case it's escaped your notice, your parents have known you forever. They have memories of you in every stage of your life, as much as that might make you cringe, and they know things about you no one else could. This gives them—and through them, you—the advantage of perspective.
Friends are great for advice, but you will never have to wonder if your Mom has your best interests at heart. Ask your mom if she thinks you should try out for that club sport your friends told you to "totally go for," and she'll remind you how much you hated badminton in high school. That doesn't mean you can't try out for it—it's just another viewpoint to consider. Most parents do contain a trove of wisdom, both about you and life in general, and are pretty eager to share it. Students seem to think that asking for their parents' advice indicates a dependency on their approval, but in reality it indicates the opposite. Listening to the advice of your parents is and always will be a strength, whether or not you decide to follow their advice.
While at home for spring break, I realized how much I enjoy the company of my parents. The conversation is never strained because there's no disconnect, no vast stretch of time in each others' lives we have no way of accounting for. My dad asks if the book I've started for my Narrative class is as good as the last. My mom asks if I've submitted another piece to the Writer's Circle yet, knowing how excited I had been about my first one. And in return, I ask about the happenings at home with equal detail, since we have kept the relationship we've always had. Why limit the appreciation of your parents to the few weeks physically spent at home? Maintaining contact with your parents is rewarding not only during breaks, but during the semester, too.
Calling home isn't an obligation restricted to the newly moved-out, either. My mother, who moved to my current home in Miami more than 20 years ago, calls her mother, who lives in a small town in Austria, almost every day. And I bet my grandmother would be thrilled to call her mother, if she could. Taking for granted one of the few relationships that lasts a lifetime is wasteful and irreverent.
I do understand that people's relationships with their parents differ, even before college. Some people avoided their parents as much as possible as soon as they had the freedom to do so, and they now balk at relaying to them anything serious, let alone calling home to describe an average day. But aside from situations like coming from a toxic household, the vast majority of students would benefit from calling home more often. It's not just about pleasing the people who are supporting you financially. It's about continuing to build a relationship with two of the most important people in your life.
So call your parents. Tell them you're stressed about the exam on Friday, that you had an incredible cookie at the Chocolate Bar, or that you joined a Zumba class at the Plex. Listen to them talk about your cat's latest escapade and what they think about your sibling's newest hobby. If I overhear you, and catch a quiet "I love you, too," just before you hang up, believe me, I won't judge.