Parents | Students Home from College | Fall 2012

Home From College: Advice for a Stress Free Holiday

by Dean Tsouvalas |

As the fall semester draws to a close and freshman students deal with the stress of finals for the first time, parents everywhere are looking forward to their kids coming back home from college for the holidays. However, as any parent that has celebrated their own child’s return home from college can tell you, the scene may not be as idyllic as you’ve imagined.

We’ve got some tips for parents to help keep this time happy and stress free for everyone.

Be realistic with the rules – Your child has likely lived without rules about curfews, phone usage, Internet and TV restrictions (and more) for the last few months. Thinking of suggesting the same rules that applied when they were in high school? Expect that to go over like a lead balloon. Instead, have a discussion with your child when they first return home – before they head out to see their friends – and be prepared to compromise. Do your best to let go of parenting patterns that don't work with a fellow adult. If you tell your child what to do, nag him about his appearance, or do his household jobs for him, you are setting him up to fall back into a child-like role and childish behavior

Carve out some time – Your child is more than likely looking forward to connecting with their hometown friends as much (if not more) than they are looking forward to seeing you while on break. The best way to ensure that you get some quality time with your son or daughter? Make a “date”! Plan in advance to take them out for coffee or out to dinner. By planning in advance, you’re showing your kid that spending time with them is a high priority – and it will remind them to make it a priority for themselves, too.

Let’s all let loose – Think back to your first year in college, and how “adult” you felt. Know that your child is feeling the same way! You’re both entering the next phase in your relationship – when you can start to relate as adults. Now is a great time to let loose – a little bit. Share some stories about yourself at that age (edit when necessary) and don’t freak out when they talk about being out till 3 a. m. Now that your kid is out of the house and grown, you can be a bit “cooler.” All within reason, of course!

Prime for a refresher – While being “cool” has its advantages, you are still first and foremost a parent. The things that worry you most – are they eating well, getting enough sleep, and keeping out of trouble? – are going to keep worrying you, no matter how old your child gets. Your son or daughter will be more relaxed on break than they have been all semester, so now is a great time to do a little digging. Talk about your recent health kick and the healthy things you’ve been eating, how you read that getting less than 8 hours of sleep can be bad for your health, etc. By making the focus on YOU, you’re leading by example and can draw your child into talking about the things that concern you without seeming like “a nag.”

Be gentle with your spouse – Having grown children at home can increase the frequency of arguments among married couples, especially over finances and chores – the very issues that you may not be discussing openly with your kid.

With everything else you have on your plate this holiday season, no one needs the stress or hassle of fighting with their kids. Take time to step back and admire the wonderful child you’ve raised!

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