For college students, going home for the holidays can be fun or it can be frustrating. You’ve spent a semester or more away from home, developing your independence through study, college life and maybe a part-time job. But when you’re home, your parents can’t adjust to how much you’ve changed and they want you to return to the way you were before you left.
While the situation is worse for college freshmen, as you get older there is more adjustment to be made. In addition to bringing home your laundry, here are some tips for going back home.
5 ways to survive being home for the holidays
1. Catch up with old friends. Look up your friends from high school. They’re likely home for the holidays too. Call or text them to see if they’re in town; meet at that mall or coffee shop you hung out at together when you were in high school. Grab a coffee, reminisce, talk about what you’re each doing in college and your hopes for the future. One thing to be aware of—just as you’ve changed while you were away at college, your friend has likely changed too. Maybe you both look different to each other and you don’t have much in common anymore, but friendships can grow, change and evolve into new types of relationships.
2. My parents’ home vs. my home. The first time you return to your parents’ home will be a major adjustment. But as you do it more often you’ll begin to realize that you are slowly becoming a guest rather than an occupant. “The place you grew up in will become less ‘my house’ and more ‘my parents’ house’ every time you go home. More and more, your place will be where you live and keep your stuff at school. Just as you want friends to respect your place when they come where you live, respect your parent’s place as well,” said Erin Klingenberg, Director of Counseling Services at Valley City State University in “You CAN Go Home for the Holidays.”
3. Give yourself time to adjust. College life gave you a new sense of independence that you didn’t have living at home with your parents. You know this, and so do they. They will want to assert some protective authority over you, and you will want to maintain your independence. “At some point during your visit, your independence will probably provoke you to rebel against a house rule that was established while you were in high school. When this happens, step back and assess the situation…. hold off on your objections. Your parents won’t adjust to all of the changes in your lifestyle overnight,” advised a writer in “College Students Returning Home for the Holidays,” posted on Scholarships.com.
4. Watch your conduct around younger siblings. In college you might have gotten in the habit of using colorful language, walking around in your skivvies and practicing less than acceptable hygiene and tidiness. “Keep in mind the company you’re in, now that you’re home for break. Parents and younger siblings may not appreciate your inability to do laundry or stories about your college adventures. Keep this in mind before you pawn off your dirty clothes on Mom or dish to Dad about your craziest weekend of the semester,” observed Lindsey and Julie Mayfield in the article “5 Ways to Adjust to Winter Break,” posted November 8, 2011, in U.S. News and World Report.
5. I’m an adult now. The purpose of college is to get an education and prepare to take care of yourself out in the world. Yet some parents will still see their college student as their little boy or girl. Your desire to be an independent adult may clash with your parents’ unwillingness to let go and to put you back into the role of child. If this happens, try to talk calmly and logically with them. Tell them that you need time to learn to make your own decisions and that you’re developing your own independence.
What do you think will be the most difficult part of going home for the holidays?