Your college kids are coming home soon. You miss them but also know that things can go off the rails pretty easily. So what does a conscientious parent do? Here is your quick survival guide.
1. Establish Expectations
Yes, they are over 18. Yes, they have important social events they need to attend. But no, if they are at home for the holidays, they need to follow some basic rules. First day home – have the conversation with the following expectations (or your own): No drugs in the house. No romantic sleep-overs. In the house by 12:00am. Clean up after themselves. These sound like obvious behaviors or rules that you shouldn’t need to discuss but, trust us, it’s better to have the drill-sergeant conversation at the beginning of their visit rather than the 23 awkward comments and hints throughout the holidays.
2. Respect their Social Life
This means that they will be gone from 1:00pm when they wake up till 12:00am when they respectfully return home at curfew (see above expectations). If you already had the agreement they would attend all the family stuff like dinners and visits, let them have control over their free time. Here’s the exception: If you think they are abusing drugs and alcohol (and I mean abusing) or engaging in really unsafe behavior like drunk driving, you have every right to shut it down and ‘remind’ them about your house rules and expectations.
3. Find Balance
You definitely don’t want them stuck at home 24/7 (their sulking and texting will drive you nuts) but you also don’t want them MIA for the 4 weeks they’re home. Talk with your kid their first day home your intention to strike a balance between their social needs and all the fabulous family activities you have planned. If they were younger, we’d want you to get their feedback but ultimately call the shots. Since they are older, it’s totally appropriate (and way more effective) to get their input.
The holidays can be a good time for family to enjoy time together. It’s a great time to practice some effective boundary setting and relationship building.