With the holidays approaching, parents and students alike await the first long break from school with anticipation and excitement. Students look forward to home cooking and sleeping late; parents can’t wait to have their child back at home to spend time with the family and to fill their empty nest. Although one might expect only happy thoughts in regards to a student’s return home, there are certain things to consider. If this is a student’s first trip home, the parent-child dynamic may have changed over the last few months.
According to an article in the Washington Post, “The first semester of college is a life-changing, independence-building, scheduling-shifting, self-finding experience. And that means the first long trip home – whether it be for fall, Thanksgiving or winter break – can be a culture shock for students. And their parents, too.”
In order to make your student’s visit an enjoyable experience for the entire family, here are a few tips:
1. Be prepared for your student to be tired and stressed when they return home. Even though they are finished with exams, the test still may be weighing heavily on your child’s mind, especially if grades have not been released. Finals week can be exhausting, so give your student some time to recuperate.
2. Remember that your student will probably be splitting his or her time between family and friends. Make sure that you share plans with your child in advance, giving them an opportunity to make time for friends as well as family. When they are away at school, their time is their own, so your student will have grown accustomed to making his or own plans and may continue to do so while they are at home. Have a conversation with your student about your expectations of their time. As much as you would like to keep them all to yourself, remember that they will probably want to spend some time catching up with old friends as well.
3. Talk to your student. Talk to them about what you expect from them while they are home (curfew, cleanliness, money, conduct, etc.) to avoid any misunderstandings. Find out if there are any maintenance issues (car, doctor visits, etc.) that need to be taken care of during their stay. Lastly, just talk to them about life. Having your student home for more than a few days at a time gives you a chance to really get to know the person that they are becoming. Enjoy it.
The holidays are a time to be cherished with your student(s). Use these tips to successfully navigate your changing relationship, but most of all, just take advantage of the time that you have and enjoy this wonderful holiday season!
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