DEAR HARRIETTE: I sent my first son off to college this year. Now, a couple of weeks in, he is calling me extremely upset and ready to come home. Since this is my first time sending off a child, I was told to expect the initial homesickness that is supposed to last until Thanksgiving. I want him to be happy, and my son says the only way he can be happy is if he comes home. My husband believes our son should tough it out for now, and he'll learn to love college. We gave our son a car as a going-away present so he wouldn't feel stuck in his surroundings, yet he still feels stuck and upset. What should we do? My son claims this is not typical homesickness, and I am not sure what to believe. -- College Crossroads, Syracuse, New York
DEAR COLLEGE CROSSROADS: Trust that your son is in distress. It is a big deal to go away to college. While your husband has a point about having him tough it out, I actually think you should check in on him. You haven't said how far away he is from you, but I suggest that you go to him to see him for yourself and talk to him in person. Or invite him to come home for the weekend so that you can spend some time together.
Who knows if something happened that traumatized him? Being face to face may help him to open up to you so that you can get a better gauge of how to support him. Even if what he needs most is simply a hug, be generous with that offering. His knowing that you unconditionally support him may help him to navigate this challenging period. Becoming independent is no small accomplishment. For many, it takes quite some time to achieve.