Enjoying Thanksgiving Break With Your Visiting College Student

Thanksgiving break can be such a wonderful time for parents and their returning college students. While parents simply look forward to having their child at home, students cannot wait to catch up with friends, gorge on home cooking, and relax in the comforts of home.

As you plan the visit, I encourage parents to expect changes in their student’s tastes, behaviors, and routines. It is important to keep in mind that your child has been living an independent life for the past few months with few rules. Your student will most likely have changed in ways that reflect her movement toward adulthood. So, as you shop and chop and ready for your student’s arrival here are some things to think about.

1. About your bedroom…. How has home life changed since your student left? How will your child fit back into your new family dynamic and routines? Is another sibling now used to being the oldest and getting first dibs on the car? Has your college student’s bedroom been taken over by someone or something else? Have patience. It may take time for your student to fit back into your family’s routine.

2. You’re a vegan?! Your child will certainly have new thoughts and opinions to share with you. How will you react to these changes in your child? Remember part of the college experience is exploration and self-awareness.

3. No, you cannot have a beer. Your student may expect the same freedoms he experiences at school. Be clear about your expectations regarding curfews, whether he needs to let you know his whereabouts, and household duties. A college-aged child will likely require new, age-appropriate rules.

4. Dinner is at 5, not breakfast. Your student’s schedule has probably shifted. Late nights and late starts to the day are common in college. Can their schedule fit into your family’s routine? Be clear with your needs and expectations.

5. It’s like pulling teeth! Your student may not wish to share college experiences with you. He may want to separate his home life from his school life. Though, he probably cannot wait to tell high school friends all about his new life at college. Don’t take offense.

6. Please shut up! Conversely, she may want to tell you all about college friends, classes, events that are important to her, but mean little to you. Be patient. This is her new life.

7. But I haven’t spent any time with you! Let your student know the schedule regarding visits with family so he can plan outings with friends around family time.

Thanksgiving break is a good time to evaluate your child’s well-being. Take stock of your child’s appearance and mood. Has she lost a good deal of weight? Does he appear disheveled, dirty, depressed, or anxious? Can she get out of bed? Does he want to see old school friends? Should you be concerned? If you notice anything awry in your child’s demeanor or appearance be sure to take the time to check in with your child before she returns to college.

If you have concerns or questions about your child’s visit home this season, contact Teresa Fitzgerald at



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