A few weeks before I set off to go to college in 1999, my parents had a chat with me that would forever establish our rate of communication.
Mom and Dad sat me down and said, “Jamey, here’s the deal: You have to write or call us with a recap of your week every week or we’ll stop paying your tuition.”
This imperative came as a bit of a shock to me. It signaled a level of distrust I didn’t know was there. Later I would learn that my parents genuinely thought that me decision to go to school in St. Louis–hundreds of miles from Virginia–was intended as a way to get as far away from them as possible and that they’d never hear from me again. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, nor do I even know what I did to make them think that, but there was no convincing them otherwise.
Despite the unfortunate foundation, it turned out that when I fell into a pattern of writing a detailed e-mail home once a week, I actually liked it. It gave me a chance to look back at the things I was excited about–it made me feel like I had accomplished something every week. Also, in writing I had the freedom to express myself in a way that I probably couldn’t have done over the phone. I need to process things before putting them into words.
It was sometime after college that I shifted from e-mail to weekly calls home. I don’t think it’s always been this way, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve called my parents every Sunday afternoon for a 20-30 minute chat. To a certain extent it’s something I do for their benefit–I don’t have an innate need to talk that often–but we’ve had some good conversations in which they’ve given me some important advice and perspectives.
I like asking people about this because I think the answer varies vastly from person to person. If you’re willing to share, I’m curious to hear your answer in the comments.