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Handling distraught phone calls

You may receive the occasional distraught phone call from your daughter. The way you choose to handle the situation can make the difference between empowering and enabling your daughter. Here are some guidelines to help you through these difficult calls:

  • An overwhelmed, distraught student cannot be magically calmed down. It takes active listening on the parents' part to decipher the real issue.
  • Overreacting to the call won't help your daughter. Remain calm and reassure her that things will be okay. Direct her to the appropriate people on campus.
  • Your daughter is calling you because she trusts you and knows how to express herself with you. She may not want her peers to know she's upset. Nevertheless, encourage your daughter to talk with peers who may be feeling the same way she is.
  • Remember there is a bigger picture behind the phone call. You are only hearing your daughter's side of things in an emotional moment. Do the best you can to diffuse the situation and follow up later for more details.
  • Learn how to manage the distraught call. Do not let your daughter develop a habit of having only emotionally charged phone calls with you.
  • Know when your daughter may need additional support or counseling. Your daughter may need extra help with academics or may want to talk with a counselor about her homesickness or coping skills. Let her know it is okay to ask for help.