, Salem, MA


June 21, 2013

Enjoying the summer with your returning college kids


If established rules are violated, parents should be able to impose consequences that were agreed upon by all parties upfront. The flip side of this is that if parents should overstep agreed-upon boundaries, adult children should be able to give feedback that parents are open to hearing.

As soon as possible, parents should share scheduled commitments that involve their child’s participation — such as family get-togethers, vacations, and dentist and doctor appointments. Attempt to get buy-in by reminding them of the benefits of their participation both in family activities and self-care. Try not to get impatient if they have an attitude about some of these things. Remember: Keep realistic expectations (who really wants to go to the dentist or to see an aging aunt?).

Know that if your child has some angst about changes you’ve made in the house or his room while he was away at school that it’s to be expected. Try not to react to it. After all, they left things one way, and even if you described the changes to them over the phone, seeing is believing.

Try not to react outwardly to changes in appearance, such as the new tattoo or the extra 10 pounds. They’re home and healthy, that’s good enough.

Insist on weekly family meetings and dinners together at least once (preferably twice) weekly, and let kids know beforehand when they’re going to occur. Remind them that you are not treating them differently from anyone else who visits your home—in fact, when Uncle Joe lived with you for a month a couple of years ago, you expected the same from him. The message is that your house is not a hotel to anyone.

Be flexible regarding lifestyle. For example, if your child is used to sleeping in when he’s away at school, allow this in the initial transition phase with an understanding that by week three, they will be on a schedule that allows for their responsibilities to be met.

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