Dealing with your college student coming home for winter break is often a challenge for both newly independent students and their parents. For some students, it is the first time they have returned home since beginning college. Therefore, clear communication is essential. Because Christmas and other holidays can be a hectic time with many family events, it will be important to have clear expectations. As a parent, you can make the visit go more smoothly by following these tips:
Meet conflict head-on.
In other words, there are areas that you know will cause problems. Some of these are curfews, friends visiting, household responsibilities, cell phones and holiday family time. Prioritize what is most important to you and then discuss these areas when the holiday begins. Be respectful of your student’s expectations for the holiday, but let them know yours.
Post a family calendar.
Let your student know ahead of time of any holiday events they must attend. Between sleeping in and visiting with friends they haven’t seen, their schedule will be packed. Make sure they have family get-togethers on their calendar before their friends claim all of their time. Don’t assume your student knows they are expected to attend an event or even when events will take place — tell them. Create a holiday calendar where everyone can post his or her commitments.
Spend quality time together.
Try not to focus on what is going wrong during the visit, but try to let your student know you enjoy his or her company. If distractions keep you from talking, schedule one-on-one time such as a breakfast or lunch out. Try to include family traditions such as baking cookies to make your student feel comfortable and happy.
College students see themselves as adults. You should accept who they are now rather than trying to make them fit the mold of who you think they should be or have been in the past. College is a time when students are trying new things. Some of these are visual, such as hairstyles, but others are ideas that may be different from your own.
Treat them as adults.
Be respectful of their ideas and opinions. Listen to what they have to say. Even if you disagree, remember the benefit of having them think for themselves.
Following these suggestions can help everyone relax and enjoy time with family and friends. Realize that your student has worked hard during the fall semester and is ready to relax and enjoy time at home.