Home for the holidays means it’s time to talk.


Your college freshman may have come home for a random weekend here or there, but with Thanksgiving break, this is likely their first extended stay at the house.

What does this ultimately mean for you? The time for setting new ground rules has arrived. These decisions are unique to every family, so I can’t give you advice on what you should or shouldn’t do. Instead I offer the topics to discuss with your newly independent freshman.

Curfew If your teen had one before they left for college, do they still have one? If so, what time is it now? Keep in mind that for the last few months they’ve been coming back to their dorm at whatever time they please.

Sleeping out Sometimes kids sleep in a friend’s dorm room or apartment at college, usually on the weekends when they don’t feel like trekking across campus in the early morning hours for a number of reasons. Will you be okay with that at home?

Sharing locations and destinations When my daughter came home for the first time her freshman year, we asked where she was going as she headed out the door. She turned to us and said, “I’m not used to anyone asking me that anymore.” It was a valid point, but home and college are different places and we wanted a location. Do you?

beer glassDrinking alcohol at home Despite the drinking age being 21, many underage college students drink alcohol regularly. If you know your teen is one of them, are you okay with them drinking at home with you or their friends?

Another issue related to drinking is the fake ID. Your student may have obtained one while away (or already had one that you did or didn’t know about). Are you comfortable with them using it in and around town?

Spending time with the family As parents we get so excited about our children coming home from college, anticipating all the time we’ll have together, “being a family again.” Your teen probably has other ideas. Talk about everyone’s expectations because this will also be the first time they’ll be catching up with their old friends.

Bedroom access Before your student went to college, you might have had restrictions on who was allowed in their bedroom. Do those rules still hold? Be aware that, at college, kids are in each other’s rooms all the time and couples who are dating likely spend time together alone in a dorm room (I’m not making any assumptions about what does or doesn’t happen there).

College life Some kids call or Skype/FaceTime regularly keeping their families up-to-date on what’s happening in their lives. Others contact their parents randomly and share a text here and there. I have one of each. Especially with a less-communicative student, this time at home can be the chance to discuss how things are going at college, to learn if they’re having any problems and to share your thoughts on some of their choices.

It’s your house College life is different than life at home. The old saying, “As long as you’re living under my roof…” might be changed to “As long as I’m still paying your bills…” My kids accept that our rules apply because we’re covering their tuition and other college expenses, as well as their cell phone bills. Think about what your arrangement will be.

Ultimately, the first big visit home is a learning process for everyone. Talk about these issues early on to prevent arguments later. You want your freshman’s visit home to be a good one for all of you. Besides, clearing up any confusion on the new ground rules now will help with the much longer Winter Break, which is right around the corner.

Good luck.

Please share your own experiences and thoughts on the first visit home in the comments sections below.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/24211276@N05/2983134595″>Red dreams</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/81628036@N00/523815958″>Pint</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;