Your family’s conspiracy to be involved in your college life

By Jason Brooks

I’m in good standing with my grandfather. I’ve blocked any and all possible means of communication with him. I filter his emails into the spam box. I changed my cellphone number so instead of calling me, he calls a payphone in a diner located somewhere in New Mexico along Route 66. I’ve also bleached my hair and skin so that he will not be able to recognize me in public.

Why do I do this to my grandfather? Well, for starters, I’m not doing anything to him. I am just willfully not engaging in communication with someone.

I like to think that I’ve taken an isolationist position with him. I prefer to stay neutral in my relationship with my grandfather, much in the same way that the United States stayed neutral when Germany started making camp in other countries’ backyards. Whose business is it if some guy with a cult following decides he wants to set up shop in some other country’s forest?

No, this is just my way of letting him know that I need some personal time to myself while I drink copious amounts of vodka and make subtle suggestive gestures that get rejected by Smith College girls.


Anyway, the reason I’m writing this column is to give you advice on how to deal with your family and their constant nagging. Families always try to butt in on your business with inane conversation. They always ask things like, “how are you doing,” “I think you should visit your grandfather sometime” or “why aren’t you attending your Grandmother’s funeral?” They can be relentless in forcing these common familial trivialities on you.

Your first instinctive response to this sort of contact from your family may be to respond back with an affirmation of your love for them. You send an expression of your homesickness, perhaps praise mom’s home-cooked meals or send love to your dog. Refrain from doing this!

You may be able to gain a slight feeling of emotional relief by dumping all your school and relationship problems on your mother. Instead these marginal emotional returns will diminish, until you have to leave the industry in the long run by not contacting your family. See, I took Advanced Placement Economics in high school.

However, if you have already made the mistake of inciting conversation with your family, you have started something terrible. Since you already complained to your sister about how your roommate does not like the same music as you, your family will see this as a prompt to keep calling and calling you until you stop answering the phone out of disgust. They will not stop. They might even figure out new ways to contact you, like texts, tweets, emails, Facebook wall posts, invitations or letters in an attempt to elicit any sort of response from you. The onslaught will continue, until your parents show up at your dorm, unannounced, dressed in black and making one last plead for you to attend the your Grandmother’s funeral. And that’s just uncomfortable for all parties involved, especially the RA.

I know what you may be thinking to yourself, “but what if I love my family? What if I want to talk to them? What if I don’t want them to think that I’ve somehow used college as an opportunity to abandon them?” Indeed, I love my family too. And I want that love to grow into something beautiful that could eventually serve me in some way.  This is the reason I do not talk to my family.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This led me to decided to make myself completely absent from my family’s lives. And I will likely keep it that way until they purchase me a car or something equivalent. I’m not sure yet. It’s tough making these sorts of decisions.



Jason Brooks is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].