Digital Dependency

It’s been a while since I have written an article for my blog.  I’ve been telling myself to write something since March! Talk about procrastination!  Here it is May, and I am finally getting my act together.  Typically, I like to have something inspirational to get me going on a topic.  Every time I think I have an idea, I talk myself out of it. Instead, I keep coming back to the concept of digital dependency. I believe the universe presents us with opportunities or speaks to us in various ways. Often we chose to ignore our inner voice. I have decided perhaps to get over this little writing block; I need to address the topic I keep stifling, digital dependency.

A few weeks ago our counseling center co-sponsored an event on campus called, Digital Detox Day. It was an opportunity for students to recognize the signs of a digital addiction and take some time to detox.  I did not participate in the event or even stop by, but the program advertisement made me think about my relationship to the digital world.

For several years, I have owned a smartphone and an iPad simultaneously.  I still seemed to read at a regular rate of multiple books a year.  In the last two years, it has been hard for me to even get through three books in a year. “All the Light We Cannot See” has been sitting in my office to read during lunch for the entire academic year.  I am still only partially through it.  Previously, I would have a book by my bed at night, and I would read a little before falling asleep. Sometimes I would get so involved, read more than I should, and pay for it the next day.  I haven’t been doing that either.   So what changed in the last two or three years? Digital dependency is the answer. For me, this ranges from checking social media with my readily available iPad or iPhone, aimlessly surfing the web or YouTube, to binge watching shows with my husband in the evening.  Before I used to be able to discuss books and offer suggestions for a good summer read, now I can only offer Premium Channel, Netflix, and Amazon suggestions. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but I miss my books.

Digital dependency, is it a thing? About five years ago, a visibly fidgety student was in my office. When I asked him if everything was okay, he responded that he had cut himself off from his cell phone for a while, and was only on day two. He told me that although his phone was in a drawer in his room, he had the sensation of his cell phone vibrating in his pocket.  He was experiencing a “phantom limb” phenomenon similar to amputation patients. I will admit, at the time, I thought he was overly dramatic.  I couldn’t imagine how someone could become so connected to an inanimate object that they would feel that type of sensation, anxiety, or loss. Today, I would not be so quick to judge.  I have learned and have seen firsthand, that digital dependency is alive and well.

Even this week I read an interesting article regarding digital addiction in younger kids, “Its ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies.” So, with all these things going through my mind, I created an unscientific list of warning signs for digital dependency:Digital Dependency

  1. Feeling or fear of missing out. Are you restless if you leave your phone at home or the battery has run out?
  2. Concealing your cell phone usage. Do you sneak off to get a look at what’s happening on social media?
  3. Eye, neck, and shoulder pain from straining to look at a screen while always looking down.
  4. Do you have trouble completing tasks at home or work due to more time spent on your phone?
  5. Isolation and loneliness. Do you spend less time with family and friends or find yourself distracted in conversations because you are checking your phone at the same time.

As I look at my list, I do recognize a few warning signs for myself.  Occasionally, I do feel stiffness or tired after prolonged periods of looking at my phone. Obviously, number four hits home as I have missed out on something I enjoy – reading. And, I have to admit shamefully, that I am guilty of number five too.  It reminds me of a night when I took my daughter to a Taylor Swift concert.  I hadn’t been to a concert in ages, and this was her first.  Consumed with the idea of posting it all on social media and taking pictures, I justified these actions by telling myself I was “preserving the memory.”  In the end, the photos and videos were crap. I deleted most of them. Instead, I should have just “been in the moment.”

Enough is enough.  Who wants to experience a “phantom limb” sensation over a silly phone?  Life is right in front of us. I have two wonderful summer vacations planned. I want to preserve these trips in photos and at the same time, remember the moments.  During our trips, I don’t want to be caught up in what I could be missing at home nor do I need to post everything we are doing.  It can wait. If I must post our vacations, which I will want to do too, I can set real-time posting limitations and commit to post-vacation postings.  Additionally, I am challenging myself to finish that book in my office along with one possible two others before summer is over. I am going to put down the phone, stop the binge watching long enough to enjoy a past-time I used to love.  What can you do to detox digitally? I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and challenges. Oh, and I could use some summer reading suggestions.

 

http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

 

October, a Risky Time for College Students

octoberTo me when I think of a college campus, I often connect it with the fall. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s the nostalgia related to my college memories: football games, homecoming, and Halloween weekend. Without a doubt, this is a fun time of year to be a college student.  There are things to do and experiences around every corner.  October rolls in with its cooler weather and busy weekends all before the crunch time of academic realities. Unfortunately, this combination can lead to risky behavior related to alcohol.

I have heard my colleagues comment that Homecoming and Halloween weekends are prime time for excessive drinking behavior.  Although I don’t know if we have conducted a campus study, you only have to look in the trash cans on Sunday to see the proof.  I am not singling my campus out, this is common across the country, even more so where Greek Life and Football teams dominate the social structure.

Binge drinking around campus is a problem.  Do you know what binge drinking is?  Binge drinking is described as consuming five drinks for a man or four drinks for a woman within two hours.  You may think that your drinking behavior is not a problem because it’s what everyone does.  Maybe you haven’t even noticed that you are consuming that much alcohol within 2 hours. When mixing it up with your friends, laughing, dancing, playing pong – who’s counting?  Well, let me tell you, your mind and body is counting!

If you are a parent reading my post, maybe you think your child doesn’t drink. I am here to burst your bubble – they have, they do, and they will!  According to research summarized in a College Task Force report to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents realize. And these consequences affect students whether or not they drink.

Statistics from this report indicate that drinking by college students aged 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,825 student deaths, 599,000 injuries, 696,000 assaults by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.

You can still go out and have a good time, enjoying all that your school has to offer this month. I’m just sending out a caution. Like I said, I have great memories of this time of year from my college days.  Yet, I will be honest, I did participate in some risky behavior related to alcohol, and I am grateful that nothing serious happened to me. However, in my years of work in higher education, I have seen a lot and come to the realization that I was pretty lucky.  I have seen enough students vomit their brains out. (By the way, this is your body’s way of saying, “Enough! You may have lost count, but I haven’t – see!”) I have sent students to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. I have seen students get their stomachs pumped.  I have seen students pee and poop themselves because they lost count! I have seen campus vandalism caused from drunken behavior. I have sat on far too many judicial hearings where students were caught drinking and creating some problem.  And, yes, I have known girls who have been sexually assaulted while both parties were drinking too much. One night of poor decision making can haunt you for a long, long time.

If you are already concerned about your health or someone else’s, reach out to your campus health center or counseling center.  If you are a student who would like to address the drinking culture of your school, talk to student activities, the health center, or even the dean of student’s office.  If you are a parent, be real with your students, and at the same time give them a reminder to make healthy choices.  Yes, they will roll their eyes, but who cares! Ignoring the reality of college drinking could be a big mistake.

My final piece of advice to students: When you’re thinking about just one more drink, ask yourself is it necessary. That extra glass could make a big difference in the result of the evening. Please, don’t discount your option to limit or pace yourself.  This is a viable and smart alternative to what could be some dangerous (not to mention career – or life – wrecking) consequences.

 

 

 

“Fall Semester–A Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking” Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fall-semester–a-time-for-parents-to-discuss-the-risks-of-college-drinking-300322964.html

Move-In Day

It’s Freshmen Move-In Day on my campus. It’s probably move-in day on many campuses today or at least it’s the season for it.   Dropping your freshmen off at college for the first time can be full of emotions.  Both parents and students can be feeling anxiety, uncertainty, and excitement.  These feelings are not uncommon.

Recently, on Facebook, I have seen posts from parents who are letting their children go.  This is a big step for everyone.  However, I hope it will not be a grief stricken process for parents.  I have seen a couple of posts that parents (more so moms) have admitted to a sense of pain in this process.  It’s ok to acknowledge that you will miss your wonderfully beautiful child. However, this should be a time for joy and celebration.  Joy, happiness, and pride should outweigh grief.  Think of all the hard work you have put into this moment.  Think of the fact that you are having this moment (not everyone gets to have it).  You are blessed!  Your children are succeeding.  Take a moment to focus on that.

I try to remind parents that they put their kids on the bus for kindergarten, and everyone survived.  There may have been anxiety, uncertainty, and excitement then too, but you all did okay.  Your children were prepared and ready to go because of the good work you had done in the first four years of their life. Perhaps some of these same children participated in sleep-away camp.  You dropped them off and came back a week later.  They were fine.  Maybe stinky and dirty, but fine. Do you remember the excitement in their voice as they told you of their experience? Now, I know your 18-year-old will not return at lunch time or even around 3 pm.  Most will not come home after the first week.  Many of you may say to me, “Yes, but that was only for a morning or that was just for one week.”  At the time, it seemed bigger then.  In addition, you would never drop a five-year-old off for college.  Why?  Because they are not developmentally ready.  However, most 18-year-olds are developmentally ready for university life.  Your child is probably one of them. Most of them will soon be telling you, with excitement, all of the new people and things they are meeting and doing.  And, I am confident that you have given them all the tools they need to do their best.

Orientation teams across the US work hard to keep kids busy those first few days for a smooth transition. Higher Education professionals do their best to help students make the transition from high school to college.  It is a big step, but we’ve got it!  In fact, many schools have programs specifically for freshmen during their first semester or the entire year, to encourage college success. If you think your student isn’t thriving after the first month or so, talk to them.  Campuses are full of resources.  Point out opportunities for them to get involved or where they can go for help.

Parents, being dropped off at college is not the same as when you were 18. Students are much more connected with their parents than they were 30 years ago.  Make a plan to touch base regularly.  Allow your child to decide the frequency and make the initial contact.  Technology has made regular communication easier.  Text messages, free phone calls, Skype, Face Time, Snap Chat, Instagram, and Facebook all make this more possible.  Take advantage of them. This will help you adjust too.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how often you talk or hear from your child.

So, when you give your child the nudge to fly, don’t do so with tears of sadness, but tears of joy. Be confident in the person you have created.  Make your good-bye light and quick.  Help them unpack, make their bed (Mom, that’s for you), give them a big hug filled with pride and love, take a deep breath, and say, “Talk to you soon.”  Then leave; don’t linger.  I promise you it’s easier on both of you this way.

Good luck and congratulations. Your child is in a good place.  Both of you are blessed.Missing Someone

20 Minutes of Action

20 minutes of action (1)10 Things You Can Do In 20 Minutes:

Walk a mile (or a little more).

Make cupcakes from a box.

Call and talk to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Take a shower.

Write a blog post.

Boil and eat a hardboiled egg.

Watch a 30 minute recorded TV show, fast forwarding through the commercials.

Read.

Set a timer and see how much house cleaning you can do.

Rape a woman.

20 minutes is a short time, but also a long time. 20 minutes is a long time to be lying behind a dumpster blacked out. 20 minutes is an eternity for someone being raped (whether they are unconscious or not).

In 20 minutes you can change your course of action.

 

No excuses. NO EXCUSES.

 

Short skirts don’t cause rape.

Flirtatious behavior doesn’t cause rape.

Alcohol and drugs do not cause rape.

Overly sexy or attractive people don’t cause rape.

Being alone at night does not cause rape.

Rapists cause rape.

Rapists deserve punishment equal to the crime, regardless of gender, age, athletic ability, race, or religion.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, please seek help.  For information on a campus initiative to prevent violent crimes, please read about Green Dot.

Crisis Support for Rape and Sexual Assault

Green Dot

Tips for Summer Orientation

SUMMER ORIENTATION (1)For the past few months, the Director of New Student Orientation and his Assistant Director at our university have been (in his words), “Climbing the mountain” in preparation for summer orientation.  This is such a good analogy.  It is a massive undertaking to bring thousands of new students to a campus, teach them about the school, and make them feel comfortable in what will soon become their home away from home. Parents and students have been climbing the same mountain with the completion of classes, taking tests, checking off lists, and paying fees and deposits.

New Student Orientation is about to begin at WCU! Maybe you are about to participate in your college orientation too? If so, you will start from the proverbial base camp of the mountain to finally reach the top.  The thought of visiting campus might have you wondering what to expect. Mountain climbers usually have a few key pieces of knowledge before they start the ascent. Here are some helpful hints to help:

 

1.) Smile and be friendly.  Everyone is as nervous and self-conscious as you. Relax and have fun.

2.) Pack light. If it is an overnight orientation; keep it simple. You are not going on a safari.

3.) More for the girls – Dress comfortably. You will be going on a campus tour. Think about your feet. I know shoes are fun, however, think cute flat sandals, Sperry’s, or comfy sneakers – NOT heels!

4.) Dress in layers if you are inclined to be cold. Classrooms, computer labs, and auditoriums can be chilly. I will also add…this might be handy if you are going to a different climate zone than home. Check out the weather forecast.

5.) Bring a “carry all” bag. You don’t want to be known as the kid that kept dropping and fussing with papers. In that bag should be a pen or pencil!!

6.) Refer to the list.  If the Orientation office has a recommended list of things to bring, refer to it!! A list is probably on your orientation website.

7.) Figure out the parking situation in advance.

8.) Turn off your cell phone while you are in your orientation sessions, and in between.  Why in between? So, you can look up and meet someone.  Guess what? That text, Snap, or Instagram post will wait.

9.) Don’t walk around with an “attitude” while you are in the presence of your parents. This looks worse on you than anything “embarrassing” they may say or do. We love welcoming parents. You will not be the only one with parents.  Remember, many of you would not be stepping foot on campus if it were not for them.  Be gracious.

10.) Smile and be friendly! (Oh, did I already say that?)

University employees all around the nation look forward to incoming freshman coming on campus. New Student Orientation is an exciting time for everyone. Enjoy the experience.  Soak in the view.  You have made it!!

I’m Going to Tell You what is Important

So many times people say to me, “It must be so much fun to work on a college campus.”  And without hesitation, I agree.  It truly is a wonderful place.  Youth, energy, and enthusiasm are everywhere.  Positive energy is not evident on just my campus. I have found this to be true at all the various schools I have worked throughout my career.  In previous posts, I have even mentioned the energy that is almost physical when students return in September.  The vibrancy is evident around every corner – except when something bad happens.

I have been debating whether to write this post. I think of myself as a positive, “the cup is half full” kind of gal. But lately, I have had something sad on my mind. Perhaps writing it down will help me put some closure on a few things.

WARNING: This post is on the heavy side. Feel free to bail now.

In the past three years, I had been aware of the passing of four students, two of whom I knew – one of whom was in my office the day before he died. Just two weeks ago, our campus lost a young student at the age of 18.  I didn’t know her, but her passing brought up all these feelings, particularly regarding the young men I knew.

You see, I sit with students day in and day out.  I talk to them about their dreams for the future.  When you are between the age of 18 and 21, life is full of promise. That’s not to say that students don’t struggle – believe me they do, but the expectation is that they will make it.  The expectation is that life will be long and today’s struggle will only be a blip on their lifeline.

The two men I knew had struggles. The one student told me that he and his older sister, and only family (whom he lived with), had a fight, and he didn’t know where he was going to live over summer break.  Naively, I figured it would work itself out.  It didn’t, and he was gone the next day – not just for the summer – but gone for good.  I was devastated.  The second student was a ray of sunshine. His smile would light any room. He struggled a bit with a math course or two, but not so much that it would cause greater concern.  His academic record showed some semester breaks.  I assumed he was just trying to re-focus for a stronger semester.  Later, I learned he had bigger demons. This past December, purely by happenstance, I saw a posting of his passing through friends of friends on Facebook.  Again, I was crushed.  How do two seemingly healthy 20 year-olds die?  I can take an educated guess to answer that question regarding both boys, and I think I would be right.  However, that is no longer important.

The other two students I didn’t know, but their passing is nonetheless heartbreaking.  When you work with people entering the prime of their life, mortality isn’t something you think about.  To hear of an unexpected death of a college student, to me, seems all the more tragic and contradictory.  When you look at the national statistics for death, unrelated to physical illness, of people in this age range, it’s pretty high.  I often say to some of my friends, “We can relax (a bit) when our kids reach 26/27.”  Some of the leading causes of death seem to drop around that age.  My non-expert opinion is that the pre-frontal cortex or the “executive suite” of the brain is not fully formed until the mid-20’s. This area of the brain controls problem-solving, prioritizing, risk vs. reward, thinking ahead, long-term planning, and regulation of emotions.  Could these things be tied together? I don’t know. I am just me trying to make sense of some very crazy stuff.  However, regarding these four students, and others like them, the reason is no longer important.

For those of you still young and able to read this, I will tell you what is important.  The answer is YOU!!!  YOU ARE WONDERFUL (even if imperfect), and YOU ARE (what is) IMPORTANT!  Not for one second, not even for the little blip, should you ever think otherwise.  YOU MATTER!!!

 

To S and J, I hope you know that you are still important. Love, Mrs. D.

051

 

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1 800-273-8255 www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

www.NA.org

DrugAbuse.com 1-877-759-5122

Have You Heard About the New SAT?

It’s getting good reviews.  On March 5, 2016, the College Board released a new version of the SAT. Here are some of the changes that are getting an A+:

  • Obscure vocabulary words are being traded in for more real-world analysis of more widely known words.  Students must demonstrate meaning through content.
  • Students are no longer penalized for guessing.
  • Students have reported it to be more straightforward and less tricky.
  • Math is more algebra and problem solving, but the use of a calculator is limited to certain questions.
  • There is less memorizing of math formulas.  A student needs to understand basic algebra and have the ability to work through a problem to be successful.
  • There are fewer questions: 154 with an essay vs. 171.
  • Students have a choice to write the essay.
  • A perfect score is 1600 with a separate score for the essay.

 

The College Board restricted the new SAT initial use.  Only those applying for college, scholarships, financial aid and other programs requiring the test score could take it in March.  People who didn’t fall into these groups can reschedule to take the test in May.

Keep in mind, the test continues to assess reading, writing and mathematics.  However, with fewer overall questions, there is more time for students to focus on an individual question in one of these areas.

The next administration of the new SAT will be on May 7th.  The registration deadline is April 8th.  If this date doesn’t work for you, you can find out other SAT dates through the College Board website.

Do you need practice?  There’s an app for that!  Get a question a day to keep on top of your skills.  And it’s free!  The College Board also has other tools and resources for doing the best you can.  Visit their website to “Meet the New SAT!”

For the class of 2017 or younger, who would like a more in-depth, but brief, review of the newest version of the SAT, visit The Princeton Review.

If you took the March debut version, and would like to give your feedback, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear about your experience.

What Season Is It?

You may think the answer is obvious, especially if you live in the Northeast or anywhere there has been some recent snow.  I look out my window and see the results of two snowstorms. One that was fairly significant and one that just made everything look pretty for 24 hours. But the real answer to that question is….it’s FAFSA Season!

Any student wishing to be reviewed for Financial Aid (both state and federal) for the 2016-2017 school year, can file now. For many schools, this deadline is March 1st.

High School Students:  Don’t wait to be accepted to college.  You can and should fill out the form now, whether or not you have heard from any of your selected schools.

Current College Students:  You should fill out the form for next year if you need financial aid or if you are considering a work-study position on-campus.  Many college positions will require this form be submitted regardless of financial aid eligibility.

Parents: FAFSA is making things easier on you.  Parents of high school juniors, the FAFSA form will be available three months sooner next year. You will be able to fill out the form as early as October 1, 2016.  AND, you will no longer have to rush to finish your current taxes for the FAFSA form.  You will be able to complete the form using two-year-old tax returns.  That is good news!

I know many of you may be thinking, “Great, Diane, snow and FAFSA: what a great combination.” Well, I apologize for that.   So, I will encourage you to look more closely. If you do, you will see signs of new life and spring.  Even under the snow, I have seen the aconites popping up.  I have heard a few song birds making their presence known.  New beginnings are soon upon us, and not just outdoors, but with our students too.  Many of my family and friends have made exciting announcements of incoming acceptance letters from colleges around the country.  High school students everywhere are beginning to receive notice of the new life in store for them.  Congratulations to those of you who have been accepted to college for next year.  Please feel free to comment on the school you will be attending in the fall.  I would love to hear from you.

Look closely for signs of Spring.
Look closely for signs of a new season.

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off

This morning, driving to work, as I entered the quaint little town of my employment, I noticed an older lady was getting up off the ground.  No doubt she had tripped on one of the notoriously uneven sidewalks.  I slowed down, but she seemed fine, and thankfully had a walking partner to help her.

Only a few hours before, at 5:00 am in the morning, while out for a run with a friend, we were carefully navigating the uneven sidewalks of our town.  I relayed a story to her of my mother.  On my mom’s 80th birthday, my family and I decided to go for a long weekend in Cape May.  We rented a home and had all driven to the shore to celebrate my mom for the entire weekend.  Being retired, my parents had arrived much earlier than the rest of us on this gorgeous Friday afternoon.  My mom, an incredibly young 80-year-old, decided she would go for a walk.  Cape May is known for their colorful Victorian homes.  However, they too have treacherous sidewalks.  While looking at one of the gingerbread homes, my mom took a pretty bad fall.  Yes, it could have been a lot worse, but it was bad enough that she started the evening with a trip to the emergency clinic.  She received stitches on her chin and eyebrow and later developed a lovely looking black eye.  Was she a little embarrassed? Yes. She even felt like she had ruined the night.  Nope, not even close.  As I recall, we had a wonderful night of laughter around the kitchen table.  Her fall was just a minor setback.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with me?”  Well, you know how the song goes. Or maybe you are a little young – actually the song pre-dates me. But it goes something like this: “Pick yourself up….Take a deep breath…Dust yourself off, and start all over again.”  I mention these stories (and song) because the same should hold true for you if find that your grades at the end of this semester are not as stellar as you had hoped.

So, what do you do? You are going to need to pick yourself up and maybe even take a course over again. If this is your first semester in college, don’t panic too much. Most likely, you can repair the damage.  Retaking any course with a D or an F is the fastest way to raise your GPA.   Consult the area of your academic catalog that pertains to retaking courses at your university. Consult with your academic advisor.  Be aware that there may be a limit to the amount of classes you can retake during your college career.  If this is the case, be judicious about which courses you retake.  If retaking a course is not an option, consider the second best way for raising your GPA.  Put a “GPA booster” on your schedule for next semester.  A GPA booster is a course in which you will do well.  This class may be different for each student.  Play to your strengths and interests.  Most likely a GPA booster course will fill in a free elective requirement or be an extra class.  Your academic advisor can give you guidance in this area.  If you’re saying to yourself, “That seems like a waste. Why would I take a course that doesn’t fill a requirement?”   The answer is simple:  This class is NOT a waste; it serves the purpose of bringing up your GPA.  Your top priority while in school is to earn and preserve a good GPA before graduation.  If an extra course does that for you, then it is NOT a waste.

Now that you have a plan, the hardest part is still ahead of you.  First, you should probably have a discussion with your parents. Honestly, for many students, that will be the toughest part. Secondly, you will need to work harder next semester, but you can do it! If you need assistance, all universities provide it.  Academic support can be found at your campus tutoring center and during your professor’s office hours.

If two elderly woman can pick themselves up after a fall, I have no doubt you can too.  As for my mother, that same weekend she decided to learn how to re-ride a bike after a 60-year hiatus – banged up face and all.  If she can have the confidence to do that, you can get back up again too.

A note to parents: If your student comes to you with a bad grade from this past semester, do your duty as a parent. By all means, give them a talking to! They need to hear that college isn’t a joke. On the flip side, once you are done playing it tough, be supportive.  College isn’t a joke, and with that comes some pretty difficult classes. The first semester (sometimes even year) can be a difficult transition. Maybe you remember. Remind them of the various support services, and ask your child for their improvement plan. Feel free to share my advice. Perhaps, set some expectations, if you haven’t already. Then, the hard part for you: giving your child the room and support needed to, hopefully, pick themselves up and succeed on their own.

A Thanksgiving Warning

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.

Thanksgiving