Leaving campus last night and driving to work this morning there is a marked difference in parking spots. I work on a campus where there is a strategy to getting a place to park. So, on mornings like today, a quick look around, and you know it must be time for a break or holiday.
Many students across the country are headed home or have already made it to their destination for Thanksgiving break. Thanksgiving break is a nice time for parents to reconnect with their students. For many, you may not have seen your child for a significant amount of time since move-in day. As much as you are looking forward to it, I am sending you this warning: You may get sick of each other sooner than you anticipated.
Students have been on their own for the last few months. They may come home, drop their things, only to take off to catch up with high school friends. Remember FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a real thing for our media and socially savvy children. Thanksgiving Eve is the busiest party night for bars and pubs across the US. Don’t be surprised if a newly turned 21-year-old wants to go out. Don’t be surprised if an under 21-year-old wants to go out too.
Back in my residence life days, I used to encourage parents to adjust their expectations for their new adult children. Consider setting new rules for children who have been, for the most part, independent over the last few months. I would also remind students that they will be back under their parents’ roof. Remember to be respectful of your parents’ rules. Don’t forget to spend time with the people who helped you get to college. Help your parents around the house. My favorite suggestion: help the cook clean up after the big meal. If the cook is one of your parents, time in the kitchen can be time spent on catching up. How about asking your parents what has been going on in their life while you have been away. Recognition of their life without you (yes, life exists without you), may just astound them – in a good way. If the cook is not your parent, help anyway. Your mom and dad will notice, and it will fill them with pride.
Enjoy this time together. Be aware and sensitive to the changes that have likely occurred in the parent/child relationship. Be thankful for each other rather than sick of each other. Most importantly give your parents a hug (maybe even more than one).
***Here is another blog on the same topic. It’s very good!! Thanksgiving, with College Students: Fantasy, Reality and Getting it Right.