Tips for Parents

Turkey Day Tips for Parents of College Students

Thanksgiving reunites family members, evokes memories of past holidays, fills the kitchen with mouth-watering foods and, for parents of college students, conjures up piles of laundry and a student ready to cash in on several months’ worth of sleep deprivation. Adjusting your expectations can make the difference between a stressful holiday and a peaceful one. Consider these tips to not only survive but also enjoy Thanksgiving with your student.

Plan in advance. Most universities don’t have classes on Thanksgiving Day or the Friday after. For students who stay on campus, that weekend can be a lonely one. If spending this holiday with your long-distant student is a priority, book plane tickets now, before the prices get too high. Remind your student to line up a ride to the airport in advance and allow for plenty of time to get through security. No one wants to start the holiday with a missed flight.

Expect a sleepy student. Spending a semester working toward As may leave your student needing her ZZZZs. There’s nothing quite like coming home to a familiar bed, home-cooked favorites and the comfort of living in pajama pants for days. If your Thanksgiving schedule is traditionally jam-packed, allow your student time to spend relaxing and resting.

Discuss house rules. If this is your student’s first trip home since she started college, a lot has changed since her last sleep under your roof. Before you enforce her previous curfew or other rules, remember that she’s experienced a lot of freedom over the past few months. As she matures over these next few years, your relationship and expectations will change as well. Communicate what you expect when she comes back home, but treat her like the adult she is.

Don’t be surprised. Again, your student, especially if she’s a freshman, has several months of freedom under her belt. For many parents, the first prolonged visit with their students reveals changes they hadn’t expected: new boyfriends, tattoos, feathers weaved into hair, a strong new philosophy. Even if you’ve stayed in close communication with your student and know how she’s grown the past few months, seeing those changes in person can be a shock.

Share your student. You won’t be the only one hankering for good, quality time with your student. Her siblings, other relatives and high school friends may want to spend time with her also. Let her know about family commitments, and expect her to tell you when she’ll be off meeting up with friends. The long weekend will likely fly by, so enjoy every minute of it!

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