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College Students and Parents Happy Holiday Visits and Healthy Adult Relationships
Last Updated: 02/28/2010
Suite101 College Students and Parents: Happy Holiday Visits and Healthy Adult Relationships Author: Naomi Rockler-Gladen Published: Nov 20, 2006 Visits home can be stressful for both college students and their parents. Here are some things parents and students can discuss to help them build an adult relationship. When college students return home for Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or other holidays and breaks, this can be a time of joy. However, it also can be a very stressful time for both parents and their kids. This is a period of transition for everyone. College students are accustomed to new freedoms and new adult responsibilities, and while coming home can be a relief, it also can lead to new power struggles between parents and their kids. As much as you can, try to make visits homes into a conversation, not a power struggle. Parents and their kids need to communicate with each other about changing expectations and responsibilities. Sit down with each other and discuss what will be expected of students during their visits home. Parents, it's your home, so set boundaries. On the other hand, realize how much freedom your college student has away from home, and trust in his or her ability to behave like an adult. Here are some things you might want to talk about. * Curfew. Will kids be expected home at the same time that they were during high school? You may want to establish a new time and stick to it, or perhaps you may decide that curfews are not necessary. Kids, even if there isn't a curfew, respect your parents' feelings and be home at a decent hour. Parents worry, and will worry about you no matter how old you are. * Punishment. If a college student disobeys a parent's wishes, can he or she be punished? How? Will a student be punished for poor grades? If parents are providing tuition or other expenses, can these things be withheld? This can be a very touchy subject, so parents and kids need to communicate about this clearly. * Kid "chores." How much work is expected around the house? You may want to establish a list of household responsibilities that will be expected during visits home. Kids, even if it's not expected, pitch in without being asked. Your parents will appreciate this very much. At the very least, clean up after yourself, and pitch in at holiday gatherings. * Parent "chores." Can your college kid bring home their laundry? Will parents do the laundry? Will Mom sew on missing buttons? Will the college kid return to school with a duffel bag full of homemade food? Some parents are happy to provide these things, but kids, don't take advantage. And parents, kids do need to learn how to sew their own buttons on eventually. * Privacy. How much should parents know about what's going on in the lives of a college student? Parents, letting go is very difficult, but this might be a time when you have to trust your kids to make the right decisions. Kids, autonomy from parents is important, but don't forget that your parents can continue to offer your priceless advice and guidance. And remember, with the kids out of the house, parents are used to more privacy as well, so be sure to respect that. * Frequency of visits home. Parents can expect their kids home more than the kids want to be home. Kids can expect to come home more than parents want them to, or use home as a crutch to get away from frightening adult responsibilities. Talk this over. * Overnight guests. Can your kid bring a girlfriend or boyfriend home for the weekend? Where will they sleep? Kids, this is your parents' home, so you need to respect their wishes, and don't make your parents uncomfortable with PDAs. If parents are not pleased with the choice of girlfriend of boyfriend, they will have to decide how much they should let this be known, or whether it's reasonable to ask that the guest not be invited back. * Expenses. Will your visiting college student be expected to chip in for expenses in some way? Will the college student be treated to trips to the mall for large shopping sprees? * Family obligations. Will visiting college students be expected to go to all the family holiday festivities, even if they don't want to? Are visiting college students expected to attend religious services with their parents? * Changing views. College students may be exposed to ideas and beliefs that are quite different from what they learned at home. They may change their mind about politics or religion in ways that are very upsetting to parents. Hopefully this will result in some thoughtful conversations instead of conflicts. Kids, understand how taking on certain views might upset the people who tried to raise you with certain beliefs and opinions. Parents, understand that this is an important part of becoming an adult. Above all, communicate with each other! Don't feel angry at yourself if visits home are a little stressful, as this is very normal. Take joy at seeing each other and at developing a strong adult relationship that will last the rest of your lives.

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