Can you feel it?! The stress of finals week nearing, the anticipation of this term of college drawing to an end, and the excitement of a much needed winter break on the horizon! Ahhhhh, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and if you can just make it through the next couple of weeks, you’re home free!
College students are ready for an extended break from studies and many of them will be heading home for the holidays. The thought of sleeping in their own beds, home cooking, reconnecting with their high school friends and just plain relaxing is a dream come true. And for parents eagerly awaiting their children’s return, having their family back under one roof can seem like things will finally be back to normal. Not so fast, my friends!
What is normal after you’ve been away to college a little over four months? Yes, there may have been an occasional weekend visit home here or there, but winter break is nearly a month long stay. For some students and parents, this can present some unexpected challenges. It can be easy for parent’s to forget that their child has now become a young, independent adult who is beginning to create their own lifestyle. They’ve had no parents to oversee their actions or continue to enforce rules and responsibilities. For the past several months, students have been setting their own schedules, choosing who they hang out with and making their own set of rules. Although students are beginning to develop their own views and gain more independence, parents are typically unchanged since their child walked out the door. So what can you do to make your time together go smoothly? Here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Prepare yourself ahead of time. For parents, you may have gotten a glimpse of what to expect when your child was home on prior visits. Don’t change your routine for your child. You will find that keeping structure will help them to know how to act while they are at home. For students, just recall the house rules from your high school days and expect that many of those have probably not changed in your absence.
- Show some respect. This is your parent’s house so they have the liberty of setting the rules. If you show respect and appreciation for their guidelines, it reveals a level of maturity that you’ve developed while you were away. When you show that kind of maturity upon your return, it will set the tone for your stay and parents may loosen the reigns a bit for you!
- Agree on the rules. After students arrive home, it is best to sit down and discuss the house rules and what will and will not be tolerated. Parents should acknowledge that the student has gained a level of independence and freedom, but while they are home they are expected to not disrupt the household. It’s also important for parents to respect their child and have fun with them, yet continue to be the parent in the relationship.
- Take responsibility. If there are younger siblings still in the household, it is important to set a good example for them. After all, most youngsters will look up to their college-aged siblings so you want to make sure that you are making them proud! Not drinking if you’re under the legal age, obeying curfew, running errands and helping with chores are all tasks that are not unreasonable to perform while you’re on break. And remember to communicate with your parents. It’s not fair for them to make a meal and have you bail on them, or for them to wait up for you to come home when you’ve decided to spend the night at a friend’s house.
- Have patience. Parents, remind yourselves that this is a time of growth and change for your young adult. They will want to meet up with old friends, sleep in, voice their opinions and relax while under your roof. Remember to show them how happy you are to have them home with you again! Students need to remember that these loving people have been very influential while you were growing up and have been there for you day in and day out prior to college. Understand that they miss you and want to hear all about your experiences, and spend as much time with you as they can while you’re home.
With a little forethought and planning, this holiday break could be one of the best and most memorable times for your entire family!