Home for the Holidays: What to Expect When You Visit Your Family
Now that the holidays are upon us, many college students are visiting their families for the first time in over three months. You may be dreaming of mom’s cooking, shopping trips and long lazy days in bed, but you may soon realize that the reality of the situation does not always live up to those expectations. In the last few months at college, you have adjusted to a life with more freedom and flexibility, but your parents are probably still living a life that is close to how things were before you left. It’s important to keep this in mind when heading home to avoid potential arguments or hurt feelings during your stay. To help keep things peaceful during your visit home during the holiday break, consider the following tips.
When you were in high school, you probably had a curfew, something that has since gone out the window at college. Try to remember that you are now a guest in your parents' home, and you should not come and go at all hours of the night. This does not mean you need to be home by 10:00 p.m., but stumbling through the front door at 5:00 a.m. would not be cool. The best thing to do is to talk to your parents about some basic ground rules, and call them if you are going to be late. They aren’t trying to limit your fun; they just want to know you are safe.
Friends & Family
If you are like me, when you head home for a visit, you have a long list of friends to see. This, too, has the potential for creating hurt feelings for your family. Your family has been looking forward to spending time with you. Be sure to give your parents a head up about any plans you have with friends to ensure you don’t ruin any surprises and gatherings your family may be planning. It’s important to set aside some time for your family while you are home, even if it’s just for a meal or game night. By balancing your time between family and friends, you’ll ensure your parents don’t feel alienated and abandoned during your visit.
Money, cars and shopping trips, oh my! These are all things we look forward to when we head home for the holidays, but be sure you aren’t expecting too much from your parents. If your parents are already contributing by paying some of your college tuition, they may not have excess funds to hand out during your stay. The same may be true for shopping trips. If you have a list of items you wanted to buy during your stay, it’s best to sit down with your parents and discuss money issues to avoid any arguments. Money issues tend to cause anxiety for all parties involved, and there should be realistic expectations of what your parents are able to help you with during your visit. The same holds true for the family car. If you would like to borrow the car, be sure to ask in advance to make sure it is available. While you may have an open schedule, chances are your parents still have work and other obligations to attend to while you are home.
Taking the time to sit down and discuss these types of issues with your parents when you first arrive can save you all from some serious headaches down the road. It helps to remember that while you are now an adult, you are still in your parents' home. Be respectful of their space and their schedules and keep them in the loop. By setting up some simple ground rules, you’ll avoid hurting your parents' feelings or getting frustrated by their restrictions; work with each other to make the most of your time together. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way back to your dorm room and hitting the books, so enjoy being home for the holidays while you can. Happy Holidays!