Tips for Parents
Preparing for Your Student's Return Home
The holiday season is upon us, which means that soon your student will be on school break. This is an exciting time; for many families, it will be the first extended time they've had with their student since he left for college in August.
Sometimes, this holiday break can provide unique challenges for families, as everyone has grown during the last few months. New perspectives and new routines can provide a source of unexpected conflict. You can be prepared by expecting that your student might...
- Express newly-developed or developing ideas surrounding religious, political and lifestyle beliefs.
- Try to balance reconnecting with friends and spending quality time with family (and she might not always be perfect at doing so).
- Readjust to house rules and routines after living independently (for some, this might be more difficult than others).
All of this is normal. But, when you and your student don't see eye-to-eye on things, and a verbal tussle ensues, there are a few tactics you can try as you agree to disagree.
- Keep in mind that these types of disagreements can actually be good for your parent/student relationship. The key is agreeing to disagree in a respectful, open-minded manner. You can do this by:
- Engaging. Let your student know that, just because you have had differences in opinion before, you're still very interested in hearing what she has to say about things. Don't avoid the tough topics. You can both learn a great deal from one another by engaging in meaty conversations.
- Listening. Allow your student to say his piece, without interrupting to inject your opinion. Show that you're listening by maintaining eye contact, keeping an open posture and reflecting back some of the things he is saying. Sometimes just knowing that you're being listened to makes all the difference in the world.
- Keeping an open mind. We all change and grow. And we can all change our minds once we hear the facts presented in the here and now. Stay open to this possibility as you and your student exchange opinions and perspectives. It's all part of being a growing, engaged human being.
- Not taking differences in opinion personally. If your student takes a different stance than you do, it's not because she hates you or disrespects you. It's likely because she has had experiences that have led her to form a different opinion. It's really not about you.
- Sharing your pride. The fact that your student is an independent, critical thinker, no matter his opinion, can be a source of great pride. Don't forget to praise your student for his abilities and his curiosity.
Having an intentional discussion about agreeing to disagree is an important step in developing an adult relationship with your student. Give the gift of conversation this season!
As much as we're encouraging you to maintain an open mind, we're not suggesting throwing all rules out the window! Being clear with your student — perhaps even before he comes home — about what you expect regarding his behavior and routine will help avoid conflicts later this month. Giving your student a heads up about any major changes that have taken place in your home these last few months will help ease the transition too.
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