By Corinna Spreen, Tasha van Laer, Pauline Verbeke
We noticed that when children leave their parent’s house for the first time both can feel rather displaced. The young adolescents find themselves in a new environment with responsibilities they never had to face before. They meet new people and have lots of new experiences. But in this new situation they can also feel lonely, need some advice, or want to talk about the things they are doing and people they are meeting.
At the same time the parents can feel anxious because of their empty house. They have to deal with physically more space, but also a more quiet home. They need to find new ways to interact with their child, create a whole new set of habits and have to learn not to display to much towards their kids that they are worried.
When we talked to first year students and their parents about this, it became clear that the biggest problem is that the children mainly contact their parents when they are in need. This gives a rather negative tone to the communication. The parents would love to hear more about what is going on with their children, while their children want to exploit their newly gained freedom.
Because not every generation is familiar with the latest social media, we decided to make some books that can stimulate the communication between parents and children. Modern ways of communication also lack some tangibility. A book is more sentimental because it reminds us of our old photo albums and recipe books.
Both the parents and the children would have a book with a number of challenges to choose from, and they can decide themselves how often they want to do one of them. These challenges are creative ways to show the other person you are thinking about them. Examples of these challenges are: “Send a picture with whatsapp.” “Write a letter.” Or “Make a Christmas decoration.” In this way they can both discover different ways of communication. For the parents these include different social media, while for the adolescent these are older ways of communication.
Besides letting each other know that you think of the other and care about them, it also gives the opportunity to collect memories and get to know each other better. The letters, photo’s etc. you send to your mother or father can be placed in their copy of the book. In this way you create a sort of photo album. Because in most families now a days the family photo albums end when the child turns 18. The child, on the other hand, can collect valuable knowledge like family recipes.