As the holiday vacation looms I thought I would pass on some tips for the next two weeks. Some of your kids are in private school and their vacation starts today, some of you have college students returning home for a month, and others start vacation next week. It's all about your expectations, and keeping them grounded in reality.
Let's start with college students, especially those freshman. Your expectations may be that you will pick up where you left off, curfews, rules, etc. But it has been out of sight, out of mind, for you and your kids for the last four months, and your kids have changed. They will be rule averse. They are used to going, being and doing whatever they want, whenever they want, free of parental oversight. Expecting them to resume their place at home as same ole same ole will never work, and cause a great deal of unpleasantness, for all of you! I suggest the following conversation, and I Get It moment: " We are so excited to have you home. We get things will be different for you when you are home, you are used to being the master of your universe, and have not had to answer to anyone about what you do and where you go. We will try to respect that. Here's the thing, that is going to take some time for us to get used to, and this will be our first vacation with you as a non-teenager. We still worry about you. That will probably never change. We know that partying at college has been fun, but at least you or your friends weren't driving. We won't have a curfew, but it would be great if you would at least leave us a text as to your plan as it gets later, just so we know you are safe. If you choose to crash where you party, that's fine, but walking by an empty bedroom at 3 AM will scare the s**t out of me, but if I read a text that you are at someones house, I will be fine. We will be happy to pick you up anytime, anywhere. No questions asked. I don't care if it's 3 in the AM, I will put my coat on and come get you." ( I used to do this for my daughter when she was in college, and she actually took me up on it, wanting to sleep in her own bed. I was happy to do it, we had some good conversations on those late nights, and I knew she was safe)
You do not have to over indulge, give money away or bribe your kids to want to be at home. In fact just the opposite. If they need money, there should be some quid pro quo involved. You don't get something for nothing. Many college students begin to get a real sense of entitlement during the college years, money thrown into a bank account when they need it, tuition paid, food available just by swiping a card at the student union, that of course you pay for. When they come home, and are in need of cash, please expect something in return. Maybe it is caring for a younger sibling, maybe its doing laundry, going food shopping, running errands, you name it. And if there is an avoidance of fulfilling your requests, you can say, you know honey, I'd love to give you some cash, but here are some things I need, so whenever you're ready!
Bottom line, you need to respect the change that has occurred while they have been away from home, but not exempt them from feeling thankful and responsible to their family.
OK, so that takes care of the college students. Lets deal with your middle and high schooler.
There will be alot of lying around the house during the day, and then a flurry of activity to get out at night. They will not sit around the house and read the books you bought them for presents, but they will watch cartoons, Jersey Shore, and Teen mom for hours at a time. It will make you crazy. Just turn around and walk out of the room. If you have a teen who has been busy with school/sports and other extra curricula activities, they are craving veg time. Let them have it! When they want to hit the party circuit, this is where you need to intervene. Here is your I Get It moment: " I get you and your friends are in heavy duty party mode. I want you to be safe, so I will be your chauffeur service. This way, I won't be worried about you driving or your friends driving. Your friends can pick you up at the start of the evening, but I will be your car service at the end. I want you to have a fun vacation, and I want it to be a safe one!
It's all pretty simple. It's about safety. Have a wonderful holiday.