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What To Expect When Your College Student Is Home For Break

Many college students come home for Thanksgiving, and while you're all looking forward to it, it can be an adjustment. You are excited about having her home, but you may also be nervous about what to anticipate. It's often the first extended time at home since they left for college in the summer, and the first semester at college may have been their first glimpse of "freedom". So they may be wondering if it is possible to come home and still maintain their newfound independence.

Here are a few things to consider:

They come home exhausted

Let them sleep --all day if necessary!. They’re sleep-deprived from dorm living, late nights and final exams so she may need significant downtime before she is ready to socialize. While staying out till morning sounds awful to me, it’s the norm in college. So don't be shocked when students come home with bags under their eyes.

The family dynamic may have changed

Remember that not only has your student changed over the past few months, but you have become accustomed to differences at home too. Though you'll enjoy the reinvigorated hustle and bustle of family life, you may have moments of longing for the ability to see the front hall floor, to not worry about dinner or to not share a car. Honestly, that ambivalence is probably similar to what our kid feels about being back home. And if there are siblings, they have readjusted their place in the family.

Adjust the rules

It's hard not to revert automatically to the old rules and a curfew. They may be in all night and then decide at 10 pm to go out--while we are heading to bed. To help ease the tension, it can be smart to just have a straightforward discussion and develop mutual expectations for the time they are home. Even though we've grown used to not knowing what time our kids go back to their room when they're away, parents can’t turn off their worry when it’s 2 a.m. and the car isn’t back. Parents don’t stop being parents. So come to an agreement that recognizes your child’s independence, as well as your own need not to worry.

Give them space

This can be tough since you might not have seen them in months but you have to do it to keep the peace. She may not want to talk about college much; she may want to keep some portion of her life private. That doesn’t mean that she is hiding anything, she may not feel that college is that interesting to you. Right now she may just want to be home, taking a break, and not thinking about school.

Don't ask too many questions

If they want to talk, they will. In fact, it they may reflect on the semester — on ways they have changed and on what they have learned; but it may take a bit of time before they open up. Engage in conversation and listen to their excitement over new ideas rather than just asking them about grades and goals. It’s great to watch your child's passion for what they're learning.

They want to see their friends

This is a given. They'll want to reconnect and catch up on life. We don't want them to feel pulled between spending time with their friends or their families. Guilt trips are no good for anybody.

Have lots of good food in the house

They will be hungry for good food. My kids come home dying for fresh fruit and steak and really anything, because it's all so much better than the stuff they eat at college. This can be good leverage for having them stay home for dinner!

Don't do everything for them

It’s easy to fall back on old habits when your child returns home. You can spoil them a little, but don’t do everything for them. Helping out too much can make them feel like a guest in their own home.

Enjoy the family time!


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