Visiting Home from College

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The first month or so of school, you were homesick. You followed the advice of other students on campus and of your college counseling office and online writing services, also suffered through this homesickness, knowing that it would pass and that it was a sign of your transition to a more independent life. Now, you are comfortable with your peers, making a home on campus and preparing to go home for the holidays or for the summer. What you may not anticipate is that you will have to adjust to being home again. Your parents may ask you where you are going, when you will be home, and why you aren’t spending more time with them.

They may expect or want you to tell them every detail of your time at school, including your new romance and what classes you liked best. They may even think that things will be the same as they always were. But, the fact is: They will never be the same. You, however, must help your parents adjust to this fact of life. You will probably get nothing but frustration and an angry response if you try to stick out your chin and tell them that they have no business intruding in your life. Remember, that they are paying your tuition and they probably consider it their right to know what is happening in your life.

You DO want to have a relationship with your parent, but you probably also want to send a signal that things are changing and that the relationship must change as well. Start simply and slowly. Talk to your parents so that they know they are not losing their connection to you. Share whatever information you feel comfortable sharing to take the edge off their concern. In the next dinner conversation or ‘sit down’, you can begin to express your feelings about how you are changing and how you see things a bit differently. Do not be combative or defensive. Don’t say things like “You treat me like a child”. Try to avoid confrontational discussions by sticking to what you feel and trying to help your parents understand what you are going through. Don’t tell them how you think THEY should act or feel. Let them manage their own reaction to what you are saying.

Remember that this is a new situation for you and for them. They are watching you become an adult and they may feel threatened or sad. Try to plan your time so that you can spend SOME TIME with your family (siblings, parents, aunts, uncles) and SOME TIME catching up with old and new friends, working or going out. Don’t just ignore your family and make them feel as if they are running a hotel. It is bound to be a source of friction and you will pay the price. With some planning, you can make everyone happy and show your family that you have become more independent and responsible. They are less likely to be concerned about your ability to handle your newfound freedom and more likely to make a healthy adjustment to your independence.