Newsletters for Mental Health
Alicia Pamperin
11/9/11

Finally! It’s break time! You are going back to your hometown and see your friends from high school. While breaks are a lot of fun, the first long break of college can end up causing problems with students and parents alike as they both try to deal with the new set of expectations that comes with having a college student back in their parent’s house.

For those students who have been living in the dorms or apartments and have become use to their own set of rules (or lack thereof), going back to your parents place can feel more like going back in time.

Often parents still expect their children to follow the same rules and guidelines as they did in high school. This can cause clashes between you and your parents when you expect to be treated as an independent adult and they expect you to follow the rules they set in place before you could drive. How can we avoid some of these problems?

The easiest solution is actually to just talk to your parents. Find out what appointments they might have scheduled for you, what times the family gatherings are going to be, etc. And let them know about the plans you have with your friends. If everyone knows what is expected for the week, it will be easier to plan, and less likely to cause problems. Also, it is important to discuss this before you leave for break. It will be less stressful for everyone if this is taken care of ahead of time.

Did you get a tattoo or dye your hair since your family saw you last?  Did you become a vegetarian or change political views? If you’ve done or changed something significant since your parents saw you last, give them a heads up before they pick you up or you arrive back home. It will give them time to adjust and will be less shocking than if you had waited. And it helps avoid problems at Thanksgiving dinner if you suddenly don’t eat meat any more.

This holds true for parents as well. Ask them if anything has changed since you’ve been gone. Maybe your room is the same as it was when you left in August or maybe your younger sibling has claimed your room. Or maybe your mother has taken over your closet. Maybe your parents changed how the living room was set up. It may not seem like it now, but speaking for experience, it’s much better to know ahead of time that something is different, than to walk in and find nothing is how you remember it.

Do you have siblings still at home? When you went off to college life changed for them as well. Like with your parents, they expect things to be a certain way and when you come back it may throw things out line with them. Try not to monopolize shared items such as computers, televisions and gaming systems. Hang out with them over the break as well. They may not always admit it, but they probably missed having you around and will enjoy time together.

Most of you will probably be heading home as soon as you’re done with finals. If you’ve been pulling some all nighters, warn your parents in advance of how tired you are. They’ll be less worried when you sleep in until 1 P.M if they know you’ve been working hard.

In the end, what everything comes down to is communication. Make sure to talk to everyone and ask questions now to avoid headaches and arguments later. Keep in mind that everyone has a different idea of how this break is going to run. Follow the above guidelines and your break will go much smoother. And before you know, you’ll be back here for another quarter.

Enjoy your break and happy holidays!

Sources:
http://www.collegebound.net/content/article/college-winter-break-blues/396/
http://www.scholarships.com/resources/campus-life/college-lifestyle/college-students-returning-home-for-the-holidays/
http://www.stateuniversity.com/blog/permalink/Tips-for-Surviving-Your-First-College-Break.html