When our son was younger we had "Camp Rules" for when he was away from us. They went something like this:
- Call us when you get there.
- Only one call once a week except in case of emergency. This might be skipped entirely based on the length of the camp or where the camp was held.
- If there are problems, tell someone there before you tell us at home. This doesn't apply to emergencies.
- Call us when you leave and let us know when to expect you home. Again, this was sometime skipped based on the length of the camp or where the camp was held or if there was an alternate contact for this info.
When he went off to study we collectively agreed that Camp rules applied. Now we have a weekly video call that generally lasts about an hour. We have a few text messages that go back and forth during the week, but except for serious issues we don't expect him to check in with us (although we love it when he does!) and we try not take his attention away from his studies.
In some ways parenting at younger ages was easier. I worked with university students and could see the manifestations of different behaviors in young-adults. At home we could then support the behaviors we wanted and deliberately discourage the ones we definitely did not to see in the adult version of our kid. I could turn to the literature for specific hands on tips for what to do and how to do it and when to do it.
I know the job of parenting is to work yourself out of a job, but it's so strange to be in the actual process of separating. When he was little I bought a tiny iron skillet for his breakfasts. As he got older and his appetite got bigger I used larger and larger skillets. Now I find myself looking at the little one-egg skillet and missing him like crazy and wondering what he cooks his breakfast in these days.
And I guess to a certain extent, no matter what stage of life we're in, that's what everyone is doing.