As the end of the last semester of college comes to a close, many of us are expecting our college-aged young adults to return home for the summer months. Although we are grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with our children, young adults returning home for the summer can be stressful. I’d like to take this opportunity to offer some helpful tips for parents to assist in making the transition from dorm room to bedroom a smoother one.
It is important to set healthy boundaries sooner than later. Try to remember your son/daughter has been making decisions on their own for several months. If you have certain expectations of what behaviors you would like to see make those expectations clear upfront and right away. For example, if you expect your son/daughter to work over the summer, observe a curfew, eat dinner with the family and/or contribute by completing certain chores you need to have a full discussion, directly stating your expectations and be prepared to compromise. We have to understand the same old rules don’t necessarily apply to your young adult anymore. If we want them to act with more maturity, we have to treat them as such. Remember to model mutual respect and set the boundaries early on in a loving and positive way.
Even though you are fostering maturity and responsibility in your young adult, let them know you are still there for your son/daughter if they need someone to talk to. All young adults come home from college a bit different but if you notice a marked change in your son/daughter that concerns you, ask directly about what’s going on and what you can do to help! Your son/daughter may think they can handle their problems on their own but everyone at some time or another may need someone to talk to. If you are concerned about the mental health of your son/daughter, please feel free to contact a mental health professional who can assess the issues and provide your son/daughter with added support. Additionally, encourage your son/daughter to meet with a counselor on campus to have a touchstone of support available as needed.
After spending a wonderful summer together, it will be time for your son/daughter to leave for school again. This can be an emotional time for young adults and for parents. It is hard for students to say good-bye to friends and family as they embark on a new school year. Let’s try to remember to be supportive, positive and exhibit encouragement. Let your son/daughter feel your admiration. This is a time of excitement, anticipation, and anxiety – rejoice in both by spending quality time together enjoying the break from school.
Phyllis Alongi, MS, NCC, LPC, ACS