My boyfriend and I are graduate students at a large university. This fall, his younger sister enrolled at our school as a freshman and we were so excited to have her here.
She eats dinner at our place once a week, meets him for lunch on another day every week, has coffee with me almost every week, and spends most Saturday evenings with us. While we really enjoy her company, I'm concerned that she might be using us as a crutch.
She doesn't seem to be making any other friends at school and their mother tells me that she calls home crying most days that she hasn't seen us. I've been lonely and depressed before, and I've tried talking to her about how she feels, but she doesn't want to open up.
So you think that we are helping her or hurting her? Should we welcome her anytime she wants to come over or should we be pushing her to spend time with other people? Supportive Samara
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Dear Supportive Samara
It sounds like this is the first time that she's been in an environment outside of her comfort zone. It can be scary to be far from home and not know anybody. She definitely needs you now and you guys are doing the right thing by meeting her throughout the week.
It doesn't sound like you are taking up too much of her time, rather you are just checking in with her a couple of times a week to make sure that she's alright. She needs your support right now, so don't cut her off from her only source of comfort anytime soon.
What you can do more of is encourage her to meet new people, to join a social club, and attend social events. Maybe one night after dinner, accompany her to her dorm and help facilitate the process of making new friends there.
Push her in a way that says "When I did this my fresh year, it was so fun." Just make sure that she doesn't feel that you don't want her around. Let her know that you loved your college experience and that pretty soon, she'll grow to love it too.