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University Summer Vacation - more of a relationship one(16 Posts)
Posting here because it's for parents of older children, and it's also about the kind of on/off relationship you have with themhen they are away from home.
On Sunday my husband and I went to pick up my daughter's possessions from university, but not my daughter. This is because after the post-exam celebrations she said she wanted to go more or straight to her boyfriend's parents' house, to celebrate his birthday next weekend.
So effectively we're doing two pick ups.
The Sunday fetching of my daughter's stuff was okay - two hours of hot driving each way. We took her out for lunch and before we left I also ended up helping her with some of her packing, as she hadn't finished this.
On Monday I felt that the day had been quite hard work. Also I was thinking about her bike. At the beginning of the year we'd transported her bicycle to the place where she studies. I'd identified at the last minute it needed a spoke securing, and said it would be a good idea to get it sorted. And when I saw her at Easter she'd mentioned a possible puncture. However, I said to pump the tyres up, as they did need redoing from time to time.
Yesterday I realised she hadn't sorted the spoke or pumped the tyres up. I inflated and realised there was no puncture.
A few hours later I got a message from her. No thanks for picking up her stuff or taking her to lunch. Instead she was saying she was cross because I'd sent her boyfriend's mother a message about when we were picking her up. 'Other mothers' didn't do such things, it was 'weird' and it made her feel 'uncomfortable;.
I do see that she wants her own space, her own relationships, but all the same I got quite annoyed. As if I'm expected to be a servant and not do anything except what I'm told to do.
This may all sound very petty, but I realis I am finding my daughter quite 'hard work', and that her return will - if I am not careful - will also about me continuing to look after her, while getting nothing in return.
So I need to make sure the summer doesn't go this way, without it being a time full of arguments. I also need to continue supporting her, praising her for exam results etc, show interest in what she's doing, welcome her friends, while also not 'intruding.' etc etc
It all seems like very hard work.
Does anyone else have similar feelings at this time?
Headline news...teenage daughters are hard work!
It all has a familiar ring. Older teenagers asserting their independence. I have no suggestions, other than I think I am becoming tougher at asserting my independence. So I am only willing to fetch and carry and run errands if it suits me, and there is a good reason why DD can't do it. And though initially she seemed a bit shocked that I was not ready to jump on her command, she is now a lot better to the extent that she took pride in sorting out her vaccinations, and her arrangements to work in the US this summer, University accommodation and so on.
Part of the problem was that Yr 13 was so tough that we essentially nursed her through it. Luckily DD is having a gap year, so a year without pressure, so no excuse for her not to start taking responsibility.
Your DD is growing up. Independence involves responsibility.
Yes, of course you're right Needmore.
It's just my daughter is very 'good' in some ways. Ambitious, bright works hard, has friends, is at 'good university'. No problems with legal or illegal drugs. Female friend and boyfriends very pleasant. Doesn't shout or swear.
So it sort of throws me, when in other respects she is lazy and selflish. If/when she treats me badly, it can be in quite a subtle way - so I can get tricked into not noticing it.
And she will argue back when challenged about how 'good' she is.
We have had this for a few vacations. DH finally snapped and had a long conversation with DS1 - the brunt of which was the line 'you are a guest in this house now and should behave like one'.
I was initially horrified at this statement - we have always pushed the line of 'this is your home', but actually it has really improved things. DS1 had a tendency to revert to a teenage attitude, particularly to me, even though he was now in his twenties. Thinking of himself as a guest, who had to be polite to his hosts, really helped.
It is very difficult to have them home again - they don't seem to 'fit' as well as they used to, and I think it is actually helpful not to pretend that everything is the same but to acknowledge that things have moved on, people change, but we all need to live together in harmony as much as possible.
Of course, things are still up and down here - the argument about defrosting the pork chops in the fridge because he 'fancied a sandwich' is still ringing in my ears. But overall the fact that DH and I presented a united front has helped! (Plus the fact that, with a new job, the end is in sight now!!)
Thanks. That's very helpful and definitely something to think about.
Yes, it's that sense of things not 'fitting' in the way they used to.
I think contacting the Mum was a bit weird but never mind, I presume she gave you the number for some reason?
I find it works better to let them get on with stuff and not be too accommodating. I also tell my D.C. how lucky they are to have an amazingly helpful Mum. I would definitely be mad if any of them didn't heap tonnes of praise on me when I'd done them a favour such as picking up their Uni stuff. I'm not sure they are always sincere though 😂
I would have just contacted your DD about when you were picking her up and left her to tell her boyfriends Mum.
We actually would have expected our DDs to get themselves home if they were going on somewhere else after we had picked their stuff up. In fact both DD3 and DD2 used public transport a lot.
I think we've ended up making it clear that though we might pick her up from boyfriend's we might not. That way she can make her own decisions about how long she wants to stay and get on with her lives.
She uses trains, coaches a lot and we don't normally chauffeur her round, other than for university when she's got loads of clothes, cooking things etc and has to clear out her room.
It all got a bit entangled as at one point the boyfriend's entire family came to lunch - round about Easter. They'd been visiting a relative nearby and were in a position to drop my daughter back. So I got quite friendly with boyfriend's mother who was lovely and to come and see them when we were in the area. Only to find my daughter was getting really really uncomfortable - not with boyfriend's mother, but with me.
I think she's trying to do some growing up but not doing it brilliantly. In the meantime I'm backing off as a) she's being quite hard and b) that's what she wants - at least until the next time she decides she wants something from me.
They really swing from being so dependent so being so independent at that ave. But thats normal. One tip l got was if you are happy to do something for them do it..eg pick up with all their stuff..but then dont expect anything in return. If you feel manipulated dont do it. I would leave her on bus home but not in a mean way just why not. She has o stuff.
But do not call other dm..that was not a good move. Maybe acknowledge that.
Why are you making two journeys? I can understand she needs someone with a car/van to get her stuff, but she is perfectly old enough to be taking the train home. When I was at uni my parents took me up there first time and after that I made all my own transport arrangements. They only travelled up for my graduation; otherwise I fended for myself. You are spoiling her!
I think the stuff with the boyfriend's mother was complicated. We'd exchanged a few messages and her final one to me said let me know when you're planning to come and pick her up because if the timing works, it would be lovely to give you lunch or dinner. (As a return for us having fed them and us all having had a pleasant day together as Easter.)
So it wasn't quite like acting as if my daughter was 5 on a playdate..
I think parenting works like this. You don't get it right all the time because your children change - swinging backwards and forwards along the way - and in the meantime you are trying to adjust because they are a) growing up but b) sometimes also going back a step when they are doing new things.
I am actually wondering if my daughter has gone into needy/stroppy mode because next year will be her last one at university, and the thought of the big wide world is scaring her a bit. But as we haven't really talked much beyond quick messages and brief phone conversations and one restaurant lunch for a couple of months, I have no idea at present.
Oh and the picking her up from boyfriends also originally seemed like a potential day out for my husband and I because he lives in a rather beautiful small town by a river, where there are supposed to be good walks. (Nearest mainline station and coach station a good few miles away in the next town - though doable.) My daughter wanted to show us how nice it was and the idea was that we'd all go walking together having a lovely time. (Before it went pear-shaped)
It sounds like she was just being a bit bratty. 🤷🏻♀️Maybe she is stressed from exams and waiting for exam results. It doesn't sound like anything major. I can see how you contacting the mother just sort of happened - it doesn't sound like you were interfering at all - it's just not what your DD wants.
I'm close to my D.C. At Uni and I get the being independent but still wanting some help from Mum thing too. Especially from my DDs. I don't think you can get it right all of the time.
Welcome to the Parents of grown-up kids Club!
I will say, it is really tricky as a young adult at University, seeing your parents again. I get on very well with my family, yet the first week home of every vacation is a nightmare.
I'm so used to being able to do everything I want, when I want, that being asked something perfectly innocuous like who am I meeting for drinks drives me crazy! And I think my family are not used to me being around either. But after a few days it all settles down. Hopefully she should settle back in soon. And good luck for all her exam results (assuming they, like mine, haven't come in yet!)