It can be challenging to adjust to living under your mom and dad’s roof and rules after you’ve been on your own at college. We consulted the experts on how you can seamlessly transition to being back at home during your winter break.
Initiate a conversation with your family. Instead of proclaiming that you’re now an independent woman, show it through your actions. “I think the biggest challenge is that college students are moving forward with their lives,” says Gabbriel Simone, author of I Wish I Knew It Before Going to College (Morgan James Publishing). “When they come back home, they can at times revert back to feeling like they’re in high school and act immaturely. Rather than getting upset, initiate a conversation with your parents.” By being proactive, you’ll demonstrate your maturity.
Remember that this is hard for your parents too. If you’re returning home after your freshman year, it’s only been a few months since you left home. You’ve changed a lot in a short time span, but your parents think of you as the same doe-eyed high school graduate you were when you left. “Before you say anything, it’s important to try and put yourself in the shoes of you parents,” says Rachel Simmons, Teen Vogue blogger and author of Odd Girl Out (Mariner Books). “Realize that a few months may feel like forever to you, but they still see you as their little girl. Try to emphasize and realize that most of the time, they’re worrying out of love.”
Compromise. Your values may have changed while you’ve been inside the college bubble, where the social norms are different than in the outside world. If your parents aren’t keen on a later curfew (or none at all), offer to call home and check in throughout the night. “When it’s time to talk, it’s important to tell your parents that you want to come to a compromise and that you need them to acknowledge that you’ve been living a different kind of life at college,” says Simmons. “I don’t think that it’s fair to expect that you’ll get everything you want in any kind of negotiation. Anyone thinking that restrictive parents are going to suddenly become totally permissive is probably setting themselves up for real disappointment.”
Prioritize privileges that matter most to you. If you present your parents with clear, reasonable requests, they’ll listen and take you seriously. “Decide ahead of time which privileges they might be willing to give up and decide what really matters to you,” says Simmons. “If curfew really matters, know that ahead of time. If drinking alcohol or sleeping in the same bed as your significant other doesn’t, be ready to give that up.”
Be respectful. Screaming, stomping, and cursing will not get you what you want; it’ll get you grounded. Even if you’re still in the throws of your teenage rebellion, mind your manners. “Independence may feel total when you’re in college, but the reality is that it’s only partial,” reminds Simmons. “As long as you’re living under your parents’ roof, and especially if they’re paying for your education, you do owe them some respect. I remember I got my nose pierced my sophomore year and then I came home for Thanksgiving. My mom had told me, ‘You can do anything you want, just don’t pierce your nose,’ but I went and pierced it when I was on a trip with my friends. I came home for Thanksgiving and my mother wouldn’t let me in the house.”
Use the time to reflect and relax. If your parents ask you to adhere to strict rules, don’t think of it as torture. Use your time home to detox from college; rest and relax. “I don’t think that students take enough time to appreciate the quietness of home,” says Simone. “It’s something that you don’t get in college.” Keep in mind that you’ll be back on campus in a few short weeks, and appreciate your parents for more than the fact that they do your laundry when you’re visiting home. Come second semester, you may just miss your folks.