College Breaks Nov13

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College Breaks

•College Breaks: They’re Back!•

Thanksgiving and Winter Break are around the corner. You may even be counting the days until your college kid makes the trek home for the holidays. Right when you were just starting to get used to the new normal with the dark, empty, clean room down the hall and extra food in the refrigerator, they’re baaaa—aaaack!

And oh yes, won’t it be nice to have them back home? Kids coming and going, crowding up the place, eating you out of house and home, and making tons of laundry. There’s nothing like it. You may even get to spend some quality time together, although they’ll probably have plans to meet up with their friends shortly after they drop their suitcase in their room. And, of course, they will want to sleep (and/or veg out in front of the TV). Let them. They’ve been going full throttle for the past three months, so don’t start in on them about things you think they should be doing. You want them to be happy to be home!

The trickiest part of having them home is the fact that they are now back under your roof after a brief but intense period of independence and growth. They must once again comply with your rules which, to them, is going to feel like a huge step backwards to childhood.

This is the beginning of what we call Straddling Two Worlds.

Here’s how it plays out for your college kid: Even though your freshman has only been away at college a few short months, they already feel very independent and want you to know it. They’ve not had anyone peppering them with questions, wondering where they are or when they’ll be home.  It’s been great for them to have no one to answer to but themselves. They want to be treated like an independent adult, and don’t feel the old rules about curfews and whatnot should apply anymore, AND at the same time want you to do all the nice things you did for them when they were kids (like cook for them, treat them to nice things, and forgive their immature ways — and messy rooms).

For parents: Having them away has admittedly been great for you, too — now that you’re past the weepy stage. You’ve had the luxury of a cleaner, neater, quieter house and perhaps even a bit more spontaneity with your spouse or friends. It may also be quite freeing for you in the parental-worry department, not knowing every little thing your college kid is doing. Out of sight, out of mind (okay, not completely, but you know what we mean). When they come back, however, that parental worry may set in again simply because they are back under your roof.

And, your relationship with them may also Straddle Two Worlds. When they come back from college, be prepared for glimmers of increased maturity (where they actually take an interest in you and seem to relate to you in a more adult way than ever before) and in the very next moment, a slide back into the old ways where you somehow manage to push all their buttons and they storm off like they did in middle school.

As wonderful as it is to have them home, managing the Straddling of Two Worlds can be a bit challenging for families. Before they get back, you may want to think about how you’ll handle things like curfews, house rules and other expectations.

See Part II: College Breaks for things to discuss before & after your kids come home from college on break.

 

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