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UGAParents andFamilies

The Newsletter of the U GA Parents & Families Association Fall 2003

Home for the Holidays




As the end of fall semester approaches, students and parents anticipate the long holiday vacation. Both are excited about the holiday visit; both have clear pictures in their minds of what the visit will be like. Unfortunately, these expectations are usually not the same! Changes have been taking place across the miles — at home and at college.

The first extended visit home from college high- lights a relationship in transition as students move from adolescence to adulthood. It’s sometimes small comfort that the first visit is the most intense; subsequent visits usually are easier for everyone. Students expect every- thing at home to be the same, exactly the same. If par- ents have been bold enough to make changes in the home or daily family routine, college students may be critical, hurt, even resentful. “How dare they change anything? I’m the one who is supposed to change, not home!” Students often express surprise that life has gone on without them, as if they haven’t even been missed.

Parents, on the other hand, are often dismayed at the changes in their students. After all, they have only been in college four months. Unless students have got- ten tattoos, a pierced body part or two, or a totally

found in the pursuit of wealth in this capitalistic socie- ty”); religious (“I know we’ve always gone to THAT church, but I’ve found true inner peace in THIS church”); or political (“Our family may have always voted Democrat/Republican, but we were wrong. I’m vice-pres- ident of the College Democrats/Republicans now”). As a survivor of a college student’s first holiday visit, my advice to parents is breathe deeply and laugh often! This, too, shall pass.

When I ask students to describe the perfect holiday visit at home, they often describe an extended stay at an expensive resort, with a luxurious private room and bath, favorite foods available with little or no notice, free laundry service, plenty of time to connect with high school friends, generous entertainment allowance, and

well, you get the idea. Rarely do they mention qual-

new hair color, they probably look the same on the outside. But, first-year students have been struggling with and finally embracing new-found freedoms. Their

ity time with family, visits with relatives, opportunities to share household chores, or even searching for the perfect summer job. On the other hand, parents look for-

schedules are unique to campus life; sleeping on and off during the day, going out around 10 or 10:30 in the evening. Students may flaunt their new adult behav- iors to their families, whether the behaviors be culinary (“I would never eat anything that has once breathed on its own”); philosophical (“The meaning of life can’t be

ward to the opportunity to talk with their student to learn all the details of life at college. Parents expect to know where their students are going, who they’re going with, and when they will be home. Parents may even think their student will be present for meals, visits with relatives, and anything else that the family might do.





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