Family Traditions and Expectations of Your College Student

If your primary goal is to connect with your student, then taking a patient and flexible approach to the holidays is key.

December 9, 2022

Families often have holiday or milestone traditions, and it’s common to wonder how these special occasions may change now that you have a college student. Many students are excited to revisit the familiar faces of “home.” They may look forward to the comfort of home, the respite from assignments, alarm clocks, and even roommates! But, it’s important to consider that students are returning home after being tasked with taking charge of their schedules and their calendars. They’re living in a world that requires their independence and agency. How can you navigate this new territory, avoid conflict, and make the time at home enjoyable?

Do some of the annual traditions need to shift or adapt? 

  • Have you talked to your student about what they hope to experience over the break?
  • What are their priorities?
  • Are you on the same page regarding important dates or events?

It’s reasonable to take advantage of their break from school, but it’s even more reasonable to consult and compromise.

  • Do they want to reconnect with old friends? 
  • Do they want to spend some of their time with a significant other?
  • Will they be sharing their time across multiple households?
  • Will they be working? 
  • Do they need to catch up on medical or dental care?
  • Do they need to get a head start on a school project? 

Do you have unreasonable expectations for sibling childcare, household chores, cooking, cleaning etc.? Many parents feel excited at the idea of having their college-age student come home to lighten the parental burden. It’s fair to ask them to help out a bit but not fair to ask them to do everything.

This is their BREAK!

  • A break from constant academic pressure, endless schoolwork, and stressful exams is important for recovering, recharging and being ready to take it on again in January.
  • Down-time, sleep, and relaxation replenish the brain and restore the bandwidth for stress.
  • Try to remember that school is a marathon and not a sprint. Students need to pace themselves for the long college race, and they need your support and understanding to do this.

Take a little time to reflect on your plans. If you discuss expectations and adapt when needed, you can avoid a lot of frustrations and fully enjoy the season together.