Big Adjustments

As finals week continues, more and more of our students will finish up – and begin heading home for the summer. Their return home is an adjustment for both students and families alike.

Having your college student back home might inspire a range of emotions – joy at having them back, maybe some stress about having a ‘fuller’ or ‘busier’ home again, or wondering about where your ideas of ‘house rules’ and your student’s might not be aligned.

Here are some of the potential things you might need to navigate with your returning Deacs:

Schedules – students live a muuuuuuuuuch more nocturnal lifestyle at college. Many students sleep in as late as their classes allow, then stay up very late at night to do their schoolwork. This schedule can cause tension if you want to plan meals or activities that suit the rest of your family’s much earlier-in-the-day schedule.

Going out/socializing – you and your student might have differing ideas about how often they should go out and socialize with friends (vs. staying home with the family). Your Deac may crave social time with friends from home, or be eager to try and visit other Wake friends via roadtrips. It’s reasonable that you – or younger siblings – might want to have some family time. You and your Deac will have to come to an understanding that you can both live with for the summer.

Curfew – your student has been living on their own all semester without any curfew. You might think (as my late P’92 did) that nothing good happens after midnight, and want them home earlier than they want to come home. Finding a livable compromise may require conversation, diplomacy, and some give-and-take.

Cleanliness (of person or room) – students may leave their room in disarray or expect you to pick up after them. Or perhaps your Deacs might not do their laundry/shower as often as you would like. Do you say something? Do you let that slide?

Drinking alcohol – it’s still illegal for students under 21 to drink, but will families allow their student to partake? Your family may need to navigate that as well.

Now is probably not the time to have these conversations with your Deac, as they are focused on finals and once they get home, they will be tired and need a few days to decompress. But before your Deac comes home, it might be helpful for you to reflect on these issues and which matter most to you, where you are willing to compromise, what is realistic to expect. etc. And then, when the time feels right, you can initiate some conversation with your Deac and find a solution that gives all parties the most of what they hope for.

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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