Summer break is when many parents of college-age children look forward to their student coming home, with hope, excitement and a little trepidation. You hope you don’t say too much, ask too much or commit the worst crime of all—giving unsolicited advice.
It is such a strange and awkward dance that parents find themselves doing when their young adult comes home for vacation. College kids are used to making decisions about what, when, where and with whom they eat, drink, sleep and study. And then they come home, and it’s as if nothing has changed since they left.
Here are some things I’ve learned in the trenches as a parent of a college kid:
Let them sleep as much as they want the first few days.
Cranky isn’t fun for anyone. Staying out ’til the wee hours sounds awful to adults who have to get up early the next day (and don’t take naps), but it’s the norm in college.
Have lots of good food in the house.
You know this is a hundred times better than the stuff they eat at college. Fresh baked goods are premium.
Don’t be completely available.
It puts too much pressure on them if they think they need to be with you every minute. Don’t feel guilty about it, either. They probably want some time to just chill, see friends or hang out in the pantry.
Spoil them, but don’t do everything for them.
Don’t underestimate the thrill of letting them get their own snack from the refrigerator. Helping out too much can make them feel like a guest in their own home.
Did I mention give them space?
This is so hard, since you might not have seen them in months. It goes against the nature of being a parent, but you have to do it to keep the peace.
Try not to speak too much or ask too many questions.
You’ll be amazed at the snippets of information that come your way when least expected.
Sneak in lots of hugs and kisses.
When the time is right.