Many families will experience a new normal when college students arrive home for their first extended break. The thought of sleeping in their own beds, eating good food and resting for about a month sounds amazing. But parents and college students alike will wonder about a few things, like:
Should I spend time with family or catch up with old friends?
What rules do we play by now?
And, are curfew and other details really necessary?
While parents and students both look forward to this time, “It’s complicated” could definitely describe how things will go without conversations ahead of time. If you want to lay the foundation for a great visit, don't wait until the last minute to prepare. Here are some helpful suggestions for both parents and students.
Re-think the rules. It is hard to be treated like an adult at school and like a kid at home.
Be interested in their new friends and their happenings at school.
Remember that it is an adjustment for everybody, not just you.
Recognize that college students feel a lot of pressure when they come home. They want to spend time with their family and their friends.
Be creative. Instead of complaining about the time they spend visiting friends, throw a party and invite everybody to your house. That way you can catch up on the latest, too!
Anticipate that your student will need some rest. They have just completed exams. Try to be understanding if they are a little grouchy the first couple of days.
Warn younger siblings that things will probably be different and be aware of their feelings, as they too are dealing with change.
Even though you have had your freedom, be respectful to your parents. If they ask you where you are going and when you will be back, tell them because it is the right thing to do. If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one.
Ask your parents if they are open to rethinking some of the house rules. If they are, offer constructive suggestions and don’t push the edge of the envelope.
Remember, your parents have been away from you. Be open to spending time with them. Answer their questions about school and your new friends.
Make the most of your visit with your parents. Don’t take them for granted. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Many parents will still have to get up early and go to work. Consider how your actions could impact their ability to get good rest and do their job.
Try to balance your time at home and with your friends. (Sleeping in your own bed doesn’t count as time spent with your family).
Be encouraged. Although it can happen, heading home during the holidays doesn’t have to cause tension. A few conversations, along with some compromise on both sides, could set the stage for some great memories this holiday season.