Parent Update

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home for the Summer: Tips for Parents

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in May 2010, written by the Counseling Center Staff. We thought it was worth re-printing for the summer months.

Aaah, summertime! A time we tend to long for and a time we tend to build dreams around. We imagine time to play or to relax in the shade with a cool drink, long twilight walks and talks around the lake with people we care about, trips and family gatherings of all kinds. Your daughter is undoubtedly excited about summer, the end of the academic year and a chance to put away the textbooks for a while. Unless, of course, she’s in summer school.

If your daughter has been living away from home during the year, you also may dream of chances to reconnect and to feel like a complete family again. Your daughter may be in tune with this image. However, it’s just as likely that she won’t be and will be spending so much of her time working or with peers. You may feel like you need to make an appointment to get time with her and have a sense what’s going on in her life even while she’s living with you.

Learning to adapt to living without your daughter in your life every day might have been a challenge in fall of freshman year. It takes even more flexibility to bounce back and forth between having her gone and then back in your life again. Just as you get used to a daily routine, expected noise levels and workload, everything changes. Think of it as a way for you to stay nimble and adaptable.

You may find that you need to renegotiate some of the house rules and expectations in ways that didn’t come up during short visits during the year. Here’s a passage about this process from a book called Almost Grown by Patricia Pasick:

"While returning-home experiences may be warm and connecting, a transition is still very much in the making. You are searching for signs of growth. Students hope to see that being a college student affords them some new privilege in the family, a new kind of almost-adult status. Negotiation is the key to an evolving, positive relationship between new college students and their families.

"At the least, your [daughter] will want to have her views listened to and respected, even if there are disagreements. On the family’s side, it’s perfectly fine to continue some expectations that, when college students are at home, they’re part of the family with obligations to help out and connect."

So, enjoy your summer with its pleasures and challenges. Try to see clearly the possibilities and joys in the real summer as it unfolds, much richer than the dreams and expectations we create in advance.

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