Congratulations, you and your child made it through the first year of college! Now, you and your child have another first, coming home for the summer. This is an exciting time in life for your family, one that should be celebrated and enjoyed.
Here are some tips to make the experience enjoyable for you and your college student:
Have an open discussion with your college student before she comes home about anything you might need to know. For instance, did she get a tattoo, die her hair blue, gain or lose significant weight? The same is true for you, did you change her room while she was away? Become gluten free? Die your hair blue?! Knowing some of these things in advance may help prepare the family for a successful visit. Be open and accepting to the idea that your child has grown and perhaps changed. Keep in mind that growth is developmentally appropriate. Think about this to help keep your perspective – you wouldn’t want your child to be the same and not have grown after her first year of college, would you? Remember, your child is becoming an adult so listening to her opinions and ideas with an open mind and heart is important and a good way to support her growth.
Also prior to coming home, discuss what appointments your returning student may need so that you or your student can schedule their doctor or dentist appointments in advance to coming home.
The expectation of getting a summer job or not, should also be discussed prior to returning home so that you are both in agreement as to what will be expected.
Within the first few days of their “reentry” find out if your child has any plans to take trips, go to a concert or camp with friends. Knowing this in advance may help any hurt feelings you might otherwise experience and it will help you plan any family events that you might be thinking of. Ask for continued communication during the summer and remember they can’t read your mind either.
Once home, have an open discussion about expectations which could include, use of cars, curfews, household chores, time spent with family etc. It helps to ask for the adult child’s opinion before you let them know what you are thinking. Having the attitude of “my house, my rules” is not a considerate nor respectful way to start off the summer. Really listening to them, honoring their newfound independence and compromise is the key to a gratifying relationship while still having your needs met.
Lastly, take the time to show them how happy you are they are home and that you love and support them. Spend some time just hanging out, cook their favorite meals and get to know them in this new phase of their lives.
Enjoy this moment in life as they will be going back to school before you know it!