The holiday season marks the return of turkey dinners, Christmas trees and college kids.
Moms and dads are excited about seeing them for more than just a long weekend, but are they and their young adult children prepared for the extended stay?
Maintaining the peace and harmony of the Christmas season can be a challenge, so we turned to the experts to help us establish house rules before they come home for the holidays.
Madeline Cain is a UT freshman who has spent the better part of the last three months living in a dorm.
Madeline’s mother, Laura, and the rest of the family have adjusted to a new norm at home.
Dr. Shandra Forrest-Bank is a professor in the UT College of Social Work with tips to help parents and their college kids navigate any potential conflicts come Christmas.
Here's what Madeline and her mother had to say on the topics of curfew, family time vs. friend time and chores, along with Dr. Forrest-Bank's advice.
Madeline: “When I was in high school, curfew was like 11 p.m. If I wasn’t home by 11 p.m. I would get the ‘Where are you?’ text. Now, in my opinion, at least 12 a.m.”
Laura: “I feel like 12 a.m. is fine. We will worry about you knowing that you’re supposed to come to our house that night. I think we will worry about that, but I will still be texting.”
Dr. Forrest-Bank: “In college, they don’t have a curfew. I can tell them that they have to be home in time, but realistically they have a lot of autonomy, and the more you tell a young person what they have to do the more they push back. Really get in touch with ourselves. What is it we are really worried about? Is it because we aren’t going to see them? Are we worried about their health and safety? Then really have that conversation with them and be willing to negotiate a compromise.”
FAMILY TIME VS. FRIEND TIME
Madeline: “In my opinion, I just feel like a good balance … but I guess it really depends on if you want me to be home more than I plan to.”
Laura: “I think it’s going to be real exciting for you to catch up with the people who aren’t at UT. I think you should do that. But we like doing things as a family, so that’s something we can also negotiate.
Dr. Forrest-Bank: “Realistically, they are going to want to spend time with their friends. They might really miss us, but we’ve probably been more in touch with them than they have with anybody else. They are going to need that time. But I am going to have a conversation about what the expectations are and needs are for both of us. Maybe there are certain things that we can put on the calendar … plan around these things.”
Madeline: “ I’ve been waking up every morning and making my bed and every time I use our dishes, I immediately wash them. I feel like I’ve grown up, but like chores ... Jake’s (Madeline’s brother) got it. I think he’s doing a great job. He can handle it.”
Laura: “I think it will go back right to the way it was … I’m excited to see all that cleanliness.”
Dr. Forrest- Bank: “Finishing a semester at college, especially the first one, it’s really a stressful time. They’ve really been through some stuff so I would celebrate them coming home and really give them a little bit of a grace period. But then have a conversation with them about it, 'You know, I’m excited you are home, I don’t want you to lift a finger for a week … then I kind of expect you to step up.'"