Hi, I have a 19 year old son away at college for his first year. Our relationship has been somewhat strained the past few years and I’m now really focused on just loving and supporting him. He calls home weekly and I say “I love you” when we end the call. He does not return the words and I’m questioning if I need to make a change here (since I can’t change him). I absolutely do love him and want him to know, but am questioning why I’m saying it when I don’t think it’s creating a good result.
Unintentional Model #1
C: I say I love you at the end of the call and he says Goodbye.
T: He hates it when I say “I love you”
A: Beat myself up for my need to say it. Ruminate on why I’m saying it now that he lives away when it wasn’t something I regularly said when he lived here. Try to get in his head.
R: I hate when I say it.
I thought about moving to an intentional model from here, but actually I think my C is an A in a different model that might need work. Here’s what I came up with.
Unintentional Model #2
C: 19 yo son calls home weekly
T: He calls out of obligation
A: Ask him about classes, what’s going on outside of class. Think of a few interesting topics in advance. Don’t put pressure on him. Wonder if he has a set time limit for our calls. I usually end the call first when I feel we don’t have anything else to say and/or I can hear him multi-tasking in the background (typing on keyboard). Say I love you at the end of the call.
R: I’m treating this call (and saying I love you) out of obligation
C: 19 yo son calls home weekly.
T: I am fortunate he reliably calls.
A: Ask about classes, anything outside of class. Think of a few interesting topics in advance. Show him my love through my curiosity and listening. Don’t say I love you at the end of the call
R: I am reliably giving him what he needs in these calls (??)
Would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!