DALLAS - Moms and dads whose parental umbilical cords are stretching long distance to their kids away at college are being offered some practical advice about "long distance parenting" by GTE and College Parents of America (CPA).
CPA and GTE have teamed to create a "Long Distance Parenting" brochure that offers tips on issues such as preparing your child for the freshman year, battling homesickness, and finding out what's really going on by keeping the lines of communication open.
How can I stay involved without sounding like a nag? How often should I be in contact? These are common parent concerns addressed in the brochure that is being used in college student orientations across the country.
Here's some tips for anxious parents:
Let your child know it's perfectly normal to feel homesick during the first few weeks away from home. But-don't ask your child if he or she misses home. This will only make your child more homesick.
To keep the lines of communication open, encourage your child to share his or her experiences, and ask broad questions that will ultimately lead to more specific responses. An example: What does everybody there do on the weekends? (Translation: How are you spending your time on weekends?")
Give your child the opportunity to express new viewpoints and opinions while trying to remain open and non-judgmental when he or she talks about his or her new experiences.
Be supportive when your son or daughter is feeling down or overloaded. Let your child know you understand what he or she is going through and that you are there to listen.
Talk about how you and your child will stay in touch.
Talk about how often will you communicate. Will it be once a week, every other week?
Consider establishing a family "800" number that allows your child to call home from any phone, anytime, anywhere.
Consider providing a long distance calling card to your child or purchasing a prepaid phone cards with pre-set amounts of phone time.
If your child has access to the Internet, use e-mail as a quick and easy way to communicate. Students like e-mail because it allows them to stay connected with their parents in a casual, non-threatening way.
Parents can obtain a free copy of "Long Distance Parenting" by contacting the Orientation Office of most colleges. You can also contact CPA's automated information line at 1-888-256-4627 to request the information.
With 1997 revenues of more than $23 billion, GTE is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and a leading provider of integrated telecommunications services. GTE provides long-distance service and offers a variety of long distance calling plans, including special weekend rates and calling cards. GTE offers pre-paid cards with per minute rates that are lower than most pre-paid cards on the market as well as a special calling card that limits student calls to home only. GTE also offers Internet service. For more information on GTE products and services, call (888) GTE-4515 or visit GTE on the Web at www.gte.com.
Based in Washington, D.C., College Parents of America is the only national membership association dedicated to helping parents prepare and put their children through college easily, economically, and safely. CPA serves as a resource, advisor and advocate for more than 12 million parents of college students and the 24 million households that are currently saving and reparing children for higher education. For more information, call toll free 1-888-256-4627 or visit CPA on the Web at www.collegeparents.org.
Editors note: Reporters who would like a copy of "Long Distance Parenting" can contact Lois Kinman, media relations manager, GTE Communications Corporation, at 972-465-4125, or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org To contact CPA, call Richard Flaherty, President, CPA, 202-661-2170.