Finals week is here, which means Winter Break is right around the corner. When your Deac comes home for Winter Break, it’s not like they will be returning to what life was like in high school. Your college student’s return home is an adjustment for both students and families alike.
Here are some of the potential things you might have to navigate at Winter Break and beyond:
Sleep schedules – students live a much 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 high school, which is understandable. It’s also 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 next several weeks.
Curfew – related to the above, many students don’t begin socializing until late at night, much to the dismay of parents and family members who believe (as my parents did) that “nothing good can possibly be going on between midnight and 3 am.” This is a tricky situation: your student has been living on their own all semester without any curfew (other than what they deem appropriate), whereas you may want them home by a certain time. How you navigate this will be important.
Cleanliness (of person or room) – students may leave their childhood room in disarray or expect you to pick up after them. Or perhaps your Deacs might not do their laundry/shower as often as their family members would like.
Drinking alcohol at holiday celebrations – it’s still illegal for students under 21 to drink, but will families allow their student a glass of wine at a holiday meal? Or around the house? Your family may need to navigate that as well.
The student’s room – has it been given to a younger sibling? Remodeled for an office? If students find their old room has been substantially changed while they were away, it can cause conflict. This can feel even more raw now that your Deac will be home for an extended period of time.
Before your Deac comes home, it might be helpful to acknowledge these changes and/or navigate any ground rules you expect them to abide by once they are home again. That way, each party knows what to expect on the issues they most care about, and you aren’t trying to negotiate items during a conflict.
— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)
To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.
If Your Student Has a Problem
One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them handle their business as independently as possible. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem, a decision to make, etc.