After a semester or two away from home, your child may be feeling more adult now than ever before, but many parents have a hard time bridging the gap between the teen that left home in summertime and the independent one who comes home during breaks. If your child is planning to come home for winter, spring, and summer breaks, use that time together not only to ensure that you both understand your new roles, but also to check in with your student. Here are three items you may wish to discuss.
One of the biggest battles parents have with a newly independent college student is how many rules they should have to follow–after all, students living away from home have, for the most part, had free reign of their lives. That said, the free food, free rent, and other support you give your student is more than enough reason to expect them to follow the “house rules.” (After all, even dorms have quiet hours and rules about guests, and the cafeteria has a closing time–so your kitchen can, too.)
Have the house rules conversation as soon as possible, and let your student know what has and hasn’t changed from your perspective, then listen to your child’s. Washing his or her own dinner dishes may be non-negotiable, but an extension of your student’s high school curfew might be reasonable now that he or she has been living away from home. Try to make this an open, calm, and rational conversation for both of you–and be clear when decisions are finalized.
Your student has been away long enough now to have his or her feet on the ground, so you should be able to get a feel for his or her spending practices away from home. This face-to-face at-home break is the perfect time to help your child revise his or her budget and to talk about savings tips, credit cards, and any other financial concerns.
Living away from home is a big step, and every student deals with it differently. You don’t need to have a formal conversation, but you may wish to encourage your student to voice his or her concerns about the transition and how it is going so far. If your student is a little more withdrawn, simply pay attention to the comments he or she makes about school.
Your student’s concerns may be related to money, the academic rigor, time management, a difficult roommate or any number of other issues. Your encouragement, feedback, and listening ear can help your student manage a problem and result in both of you coming up with ideas on how to alleviate them.
All the best,