Homecoming 101
Homecoming 101

Wow, this year went fast and summer break is just around the corner. As you return home it's a good time to think about the changing relationship with your family. Your parents said goodbye to you with a lump in their throat as they dropped you off on campus. Although they missed you, they are accustomed to the routine of having one less person in the home. You may find that after a few days of returning, tension can develop between you.

You've been independent and developed a different lifestyle away from home. Your parents still view you as their child and may get on your case. It's not like a faucet that they can turn off - they have been parenting for years. This can present challenges for both of you. This is a time when you need to be patient with one another as you reestablish your relationship.

The most common dispute is the day to day schedule. Let's face it our bodies are on different clocks. Teens and young adults secrete melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical that makes us sleepy, two hours later than adults. You go to bed and wake up much later than your parents.

As the mom of two sons, I experienced the quiet that descended upon our home after they left for college. When my eldest son Evan came home after his freshman year, he was cooking, or should I say, burning eggs at 2 AM every night. We had to get up at 6:00 to get his brother off to high school and then go to work. We were exhausted! Be considerate. The schedule that you maintain at college may not blend well with your parents. Try to make an adjustment in your schedule or be extra quiet as you move about.

You might be going out as they are going to bed. They may question this with disapproval and concern for your safety. It's an issue of control on their part and it is a normal reaction for them. They love you and instinctively want to protect you. You have to remind them that this is how you live and you are productive and healthy in spite of those late hours. They will be more willing to change their style of parenting and accept this if you communicate honestly and respectfully with them.

Resentment and tension can build as your parents ask you to help around the house. Talk to them and negotiate a reasonable compromise that works for both of you. Do chip in! You are still a member of that household and contributing would be appreciated. Many students discover a higher level of gratitude for their families after they leave home and are more willing to help.

There could also be a push and pull as your parents want to spend a lot of time with you and you'd rather go out with your friends. Again, communicate to find a compromise that works for everyone.

I have spoken to students who return home and find they do not relate to their old high school friends as well. These relationships were the foundation of your growth, but you and your friends changed as you formed separate lives. It can be challenging as you interact differently and discover that you do not have as much in common. Often the old drama that you experienced as a group, falls right back into place. Many lose their tolerance for this. Understand, and accept the changes. You may find common ground or learn that these relationships no longer work. On the positive side you may find that you now relate to someone who you would not have considered talking to in high school. Many of those social barriers tend to break down as we mature.

Embrace the comfort of home, family and old friends as you decompress from this year and rejuvenate for the next. Finding a job or volunteering will help you will feel productive and energized. Try to understand where your parents are coming from, be patient, and communicate openly so you can enjoy each other and your time at home. Most importantly, have a fun summer!

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