You’ve confirmed the plane reservations and are already daydreaming about your mom’s delicious, fluffy mashed potatoes. But in the back of your mind sits a sense of dread. Will your mom force you to have a curfew again or want to know where you are every second? Even worse, what if your parents want to “hang out?” What a nightmare.
To minimize stress and yelling and maximize pumpkin pie and memorable moments, take some time before you return home to prepare yourself. Think about your expectations and what your parents may expect during your return home.
It is important to establish guidelines and set expectations from the outset, maybe even during a call or Skype session. Your parents may try to control your curfew, food or activities, but remember that this is a different experience for them as well. You’re returning home at a different stage in your life, with enhanced experiences and a greater sense of independence.
While you may be the one who left, you may not have been the only one who changed. Your parents may have changed their habits. Put yourself in their shoes, and as an adult, show them you can respect others and understand their viewpoints. If you want to be seen as an adult, act like one.
As much as you’re hoping to catch up with friends and visit every place but your actual house, your family will want to spend time with you. Your time at home is limited, and while you want your space, it is important to realize that you will not always have the opportunity to spend time with your parents.
A positive mindset from the start is key. Biasing yourself against your parents sets you up to fail. If you lash out or ignore your parents the second you step off the plane, getting along will be much more difficult. If you are ready to be defensive, your parents will sense it, and it will hinder open communication.
Start small – go to the movies, grab frozen yogurt, or do activities that won’t instigate strong feelings or debate. Your parents are certainly bubbling with a million questions – they want to know about your life. While having an awesome political science professor may not seem like much to you, I guarantee your parents will treasure this gem of information and work it into a future conversation.
Also, four hugs a day is the rule in song, but, as a college student, even one during the entire trip will be treasured.
And if all else fails, remember it is just a week – it will end.
Alyssa Jacobson is a senior majoring in advertising and political science.