Happy Thanksgiving to All. I wrote this blog in 2010 and it is still relevant.
This week, college freshmen will arrive home for a four day– or even longer –Thanksgiving break. For many, this will be the first time they have been home for an extended visit since they left the nest in late August or early September.
Here are some tips for getting through the “first time back home” adjustment.
My first surprise when my oldest came home for Thanksgiving, was finding how much time he wanted to spend with his friends. As his mother, my perception was that he just left friends and this was family time. However, he left his college friends and his high school friends were now all home at the same time and they all wanted to get together. OK, I got over that one pretty fast. It was also an easier adjustment with him since his college gave students an entire week off. Even though he spent plenty of time with friends, he still graced us with his company. A little. It may be helpful to establish some time, like Thanksgiving Day, that is set aside just for family.
Many parents find that when college freshmen come home after living on their own for several months, they think they are all grown up and no longer need to follow rules. I am sure that if you poll ten people on the right way to handle this, you will get at least eleven opinions. This is a family decision that each of you will have to make. As for me, house rules still apply when you come home. Of course, as each child got older and matured, the rules became more flexible or were renegotiated. I gave in on some things but not all, and other things are never negotiable, no matter how old you are.
This is a good time for your college freshmen to de-stress, sleeping in their own beds and eating real food again. So, give them a little space. Try and ask about classes in a way that won’t put them on edge. Don’t ask about grades. Instead, ask her who she thinks has been her most interesting professor. Ask about the roommate in a casual fashion. This way, if your student is having roommate issues maybe she will open up to you and you can guide her on how to negotiate problems or discuss who at her college she can go to for help.
Your freshman may come home looking a little different. This is a time when some kids decide to experiment with fashion, with their hair (blue Mohawk?) or with piercings (oh, that’s what an “industrial” is). Brace yourself and try and remember that most of this is temporary and harmless.
Lastly, enjoy your Thanksgiving, be thankful your kids are in college and get ready for the long winter holiday when they will be home for three to six weeks.