Tips to Transition your Student Home for Thanksgiving Break


Thanksgiving break often marks the first time that college students return home since the beginning of the fall semester; this can often be an anxiety-provoking and emotional experience for parents. Often, conflicts may occur when expectations collide and there is minimal communication about plans for the long weekend. Here are some tips to help make the Thanksgiving break a stress-free and enjoyable experience for everyone.

1. Communicate expectations and coordinate plans
Communicating with your child is essential. Understand that your child most likely has many plans for the weekend. He or she probably wants to spend time with childhood friends that are also home for the holiday, and aims to catch up on some much-needed sleep too. Inform your child about scheduled family commitments, but be understanding about plans that your child has already made. Together, you can work out a schedule that works for everyone in your family.

2. Anticipate any changes
The transition from high school to college often results in a lot of personal and social growth. Do not be surprised if your child looks and acts a little differently. For example, your child might suddenly reveal that he or she has become a vegan. Be understanding and accepting of these changes—and be sure to communicate any changes that have occurred in the household over the past few months, as well. 

3. Understand and establish new rules
While away at college, your child had more freedoms than at home. He or she did not have a curfew, for example. Putting the expectation of the same “high school” curfew back in place can often lead to resentment and arguments. It sends the wrong message that your child is incapable of making his or her own decisions. Instead of focusing on setting rules, have an open conversation. Tell your son or daughter that you understand they are transitioning to adulthood and you trust his or her ability to make good decisions. If you still have concerns, ask your child to text you, to tell you what time he or she will return home.

4. Be sensitive to your child’s struggles and needs
No one has a “perfect” experience during the first semester of college. Some students may return feeling homesick, have new mental health struggles, or even express a desire to drop out of college. Coming home may be a huge comfort, but it can contribute to thoughts of not wanting to go back to school to finish the semester. Offer support and reassurance, and guide your child to contacting resources on campus, such as a counseling center, if he or she is struggling and reluctant to return. 

Although the transition back home for Thanksgiving break can be difficult, with good communication, flexibility, and reasonable expectations, it can be a positive experience for both parents and children. Enjoy the long weekend with all of your family! :)