Right now, most college students are just hanging on through the final days or weeks of the semester. They’re facing final papers, final projects, review sessions, and of course, final exams. But at the end of it all will be Winter Break — a time to finally sleep, and eat, and sleep, and catch up with friends, and sleep. Parents, are you ready for the next two or three or five or even six weeks?
Most parents and families are anxiously looking forward to having their college student home again. But many parents may also be a bit nervous about what to expect. If this is the first time that your student will be home for more than a few days since you dropped him off on move-in day, you may be more than a little nervous about what to expect.
Some of the keys to a great break for everyone are to anticipate what to expect, be prepared, and communicate with your student. College Parent Central has several articles about how to make the most of this Winter Break, and we’ll share them below. Take a few minutes to read them and to think about what you can do to be sure that you have a good break. We’d also like to offer a few highlights to get you started.
Be prepared for a time that may not be what you expect
- Remember that everyone — you, your student, other family members — will be readjusting for the first few days. It may feel uncomfortable to everyone at first.
- Remember that the student who comes home for Winter Break will not be the same student you dropped off on Move-in Day. Your student has grown in many ways. Take time to get to know him.
- Remember that the last few weeks of the semester have been stressful for your student. He needs some downtime right now. Home is the place where he can feel comfortable enough to sleep a lot, count on some good (non-dining hall) food, and generally just ”crash” for a bit.
- Your student may feel awkward and out of place. He is not a resident in this home anymore, but he’s not a guest. It may take some time for him to find his place.
- Remember that your student is only home temporarily. He may not want to get too comfortable because he knows he’ll return to school soon.
- Try not to be shocked and alarmed the first time your student refers to school as ”home.”
Keys to getting through
- Stay flexible. Don’t work too hard to try to predict what things will be like. Try to ”go with the flow” — for a while, anyway.
- Ask for communication. Talk to your student about expectations and things that may need to be done — or avoided.
- Be available. Be patient. Stay out of the way, but be there if your student wants to talk.
- Remember to spend a lot of time listening — including listening between the lines.
- Be the parent. It may take some time to get to know your student as the new adult that he is becoming. Enjoy it. But continue to be the parent. Be clear about any house rules that you don’t feel you can compromise on. Whether the issue is curfew, respect for others who need to go to work early, family obligations or chores, help with siblings, laundry, dishes, or attitude; be clear about what can or can’t be negotiated. Talk about it. Talk about it early in the break before it becomes an issue.
It’s a special time
- Although you and your student will likely have some ups and downs over the break, it’s mostly wonderful to have him home again. Enjoy!
- But remember — it’s OK for both of you feel ready for break to be over by the end.
There’s a lot that can go into making Winter Break go smoothly. Take some time to read these articles as well.