How to Deal With Your College Kids When They Come Home For the Summer
They go off to college as your sweet little baby, but when your college-age kids come home, all they want to do is sleep and stay out all night. Your summer can end in disaster if your expectations and your child’s expectations clash when they come home for the summer.
On the one hand, you are looking forward to seeing your child. You miss them. You expect them to be the same person they were when they left to go off to school. But, they have spent the last year in an unstructured and unsupervised environment and probably really like it that way. This new world of theirs contains new people, new habits and a new style of dressing. You may or may not agree with this, and as a result they may not want to discuss it with you.
Here are some tips on how you can avoid blow ups with your college student.
1. Negotiate conflicts early: There are things you know will be sources of tension. They tend to be curfews, use of the car, phone and Internet too, money use, who can come over when, and household responsibilities. Decide ahead of time what you are willing to settle for with each of these items. Find a place where you can compromise and make these the ground rules for the summer.
2. Be flexible: If you force the same rules on them they had before they lived on their own at school, they will truly resent it and may not want to come home, which would be a loss for you. So try to be more flexible while maintaining certain limits the family needs to coexist.
3. Encourage an adult-to-adult relationship: When you come off as an authoritative parent, you push your child away. Try listening to their opinions and ideas. Invite them to discuss how they feel about various issues and then also tell them how you feel. The evolution to this kind of relationship will be very gratifying for both of you.
4. Accept them: While your child is in the new universe of college, they are most likely trying on different personas, which may be different from the way they were before. But you need to be somewhat accepting of their different clothing, hair, friends and independence. If you are going to have a good relationship with them, you need to appreciate them for who they are.
5. Show them you want them home: Let them know how happy you are to be with them. It’s easy to get off the path into how much it’s all bugging you and do a lot of griping. This will make them feel unwanted and next time they may not come home. Allow them time with their old and new friends, but then ask them to save some time for you, so you can do something fun together.
This is all so true! As a social worker I often heard children tell me their parents weren't flexible. If a parent wasn't flexible before a child goes off to college it is doubtful they might be after they do. I am lucky and don't have to deal with this issue for many years but I can say I currently work very hard to be flexible with my 3-year-old son.
I know the importance of being able to listen and learn from my child. Whether I like it or not he has an opinion and it matters. I try to instill in him that everyone's opinion matters and we can't always have our way. Hopefully, this will help after he goes off to college someday. (I should add if any of us can actually afford college then....yikes)