Bright-eyed parents eagerly anticipate the homecoming of their college-aged children. Visions of evenings filled with mature conversation while reflecting upon the enlightened teachings of the wise and respected professors, to whom millions and millions of dollars are paid, consume your daydreams.
Finally your beloved child genius arrives. Loads of clothing – some clean, some not. Boxes piling up in every corner of your home. Unkempt bedroom. Enthused proclamations of “I’m meeting (insert BFF) for dinner tonight! I don’t know when I’ll be home!”
You are left with a limp chicken breast in your hand, suddenly realizing the summer connecting with your beloved offspring appears to be downgraded to a youth hostel experience.
Might I make a suggestion? (Or two…)
Enjoy the summer. Marvel at their enthusiasm for connecting with their buddies. My friend, THIS is what inspires our kids to return to visit frequently. Not to see us (at least not at this point) but to see friends they have not talked to in ages…since their last text message five minutes ago. Besides, talking with peers about their experiences and future plans may actually inspire future conversation.
Make plans. Well in advance suggest a dinner out, a favorite meal home, a movie night…whatever your family enjoys doing together. Put it on the family calendar, make a Facebook proclamation about your plans, Tweet it out, Instagram…whatever it takes to keep it in their mental orbit.
Have a sit-down with them shortly after arrival. Discuss family expectations before situations become front and center. Topics may include:
- Household chores. (That’s right – you remember why you gave birth to them! Free labor!)
- Private slumber parties with their love interest … in their bedroom.
- Summer jobs/internships/volunteering.
- Use of family cars.
- Caring for younger siblings.
- Communicating their plans.
- Alcohol consumption.
- Quibbling with siblings.
- Religious obligations.
- STI/Pregnancy prevention (Hey – it should be an ongoing conversation,right?)
Use your family values to guide your discussion. However, keep in mind that your baby is now a young adult who has been making their own decisions for the past ten or more months. Respect them as adults; they are more likely to be equally respectful of your expectations and family rules.
Having said that, your progeny still fall under the “adolescent” framework, so expect some push-back and counter-offers regarding the house rules. They are not necessarily being pains-in-the-ass, rather they are trying to marry their new world of independence with the old world of parental rule. Give them some space and pick your battles. I promise, you are really going to enjoy the years ahead as your kids evolve into their own person. So sit back and enjoy the transformation.
And yes, those wisdom-filled evenings of discussion? Be prepared! They strike at random moments and often leave parents in awe.
Tell me, what are some issues you have dealt with as your young adult returned home?
How did you respond to those situations?