Home for the Holidays

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In the days ahead, the fall semester will be coming to an end and some students will be heading home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks. While family traditions and gatherings are important, families must also remember that compromise may be inevitable during an extended stay at home. As students return home, parents may feel slighted as students want to sleep late and often choose to spend more time with friends than family. Issues like important dinners, religious activities, household chores, use of the car, being respectful to others (who need their sleep), and money management — if not handled properly — may cause conflict and undue stress for the entire family.

Here are a few ideas and strategies to help make this transition home a little merrier!

Be flexible and realistic.
Communicate holiday plans in advance so students are not caught off guard.

For those with extended or blended families, it is important to realize that students may wish to spend part of their break with the other family. Avoid putting them in an impossible situation by making unreasonable demands of their time.

Compromise is a two-way street.
Keep in mind that college students are no longer children that we can shuttle here and there. Students are emerging into adulthood. For the past several months, students have been following their own schedules and making their own decisions. Embrace this opportunity to have an adult conversation, listening to their perspectives, feelings, and needs. Do not try to guilt them into doing what you want.

Most students have been living independently for a few months and may not be ready to follow your schedule. Additionally, most have just gone through a stressful period of studying and test taking. Patience will come in handy here.

Start the negotiations early — starting the conversation sooner can prevent conflict later. Do not try to have this talk during exam time — students are usually feeling stressed enough.

Be prepared for changes in your child.
As we know, many college students alter their appearance, perhaps getting a tattoo, piercing, or changing their hair color. If extended family members judge them too harshly, it can lead to hurt feelings. It is important to support your student at family gatherings. You do not have to agree, but you have to try to respect their choices.

Many students will want to reconnect with high school friends. However, they may find that these friendships may not be the same as they were only a few months earlier. People change, have different interests, and find they do not have as much in common. Be prepared to listen if your students struggle with this loss.

Avoid major changes.
Talking to your student before making any major room changes would be the best. If you have already turned their room into something new, maybe now would be the time to bring back a few of their things. Students love the independence they enjoy on campus, but almost all of them want to feel they are an important part of their family.

Money management.
Will your student have to work during break to save money for back-to-school needs such as books and supplies or even tuition? This is a good time for students to reevaluate their meal plans and to review spending habits.

How to help a struggling student.
Remind your student about tutoring. Seeking help early is always the right way to proceed.

Listen and avoid taking over when there is a problem. A family’s love, support, and motivation are most important. How you react may dictate what they tell you in the future. Sometimes it is not winning the race, but simply finishing it. Often getting a C or B can be the success!


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Sara Warner
  • Created: 11/06/2019
  • Modified By: mcarter80
  • Modified: 04/14/2020


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