Dear Parents of a College Freshman,
Congratulations! Your child has survived their first year of college, even if it was just barely. Now they are packing up their dorm rooms, saying goodbye to friends, and selling textbooks for gas money to come home. While you are probably ecstatic to have your baby back home, your baby is probably facing some anxiety about summer break. There is no way in the world I will ever claim to know anything about parenting, however, I do want to share some thoughts you may or may not find helpful as you adjust to your child being back home.
· Your student is tired – I realize they need a job, sleep until noon, and eat everything in your house AND they’ve done it three days in a row. You’re right, they probably are being lazy, but try to remember they just finished a week of finals. This probably meant at least one or two all night cramming and paper writing sessions, drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much junk food. Then they had to pack up their entire home they’ve known for the school year and cram it in their little car. Give them a little space to rest and then kindly tell them to get a job.
· Point out the positive – Some students go home convinced that their summer is going to be miserable because their parents are going to tell them what to do at every waking moment. They’ve automatically tuned their ears in to only hear the negative. Catch them off guard with some positive reinforcement and encouragement. Thank them when they’ve helped around the house or praise them when you can actually see a part of their bedroom floor. It may take some time but eventually their ears won’t be listening for just the negative.
· Communicate expectations – Your child has spent the entire school year making their own decisions about how to spend their time and resources. They may not have always been the best choices, but they aren’t use to having to tell someone where they are going all the time and what they are doing. Clearly communicate to them from the beginning of the summer what you expect them to do around the house and if they need your permission to go places.
· Remember they are watching you – You are more aware than anyone else that your child is still learning and developing independence. Be a good model of relationships, wise choices, and communications. They notice how you respond in situations and looking to you to understand how to practice their independence well. Be patient when they fall short. It is going to happen.
I know you love your child very much. Enjoy the time you have with them this summer. It always goes faster than you think it should.