Avoiding Thanksgiving Clashes Between Parents and College Kids

<p>From cnn.com</p>

<p>"'Thanksgiving is the worst time," says Marjorie Savage, director of the parent program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "It's a shock for kids because they haven't been on anyone's schedule. They often come home with an attitude."</p>

<p>She also warns parents not to assume the student will be the same, and she admonishes students to give their parents a little notice if something big has changed. For instance, she says, "Don't let your mother know that you've become a vegetarian on Thanksgiving Day."</p>

<p>Family members will also want to know ahead of time if the student's appearance has changed. Tell them about "any new body piecings, tattoos or unusual hairstyles," she says.</p>

<p>Conversely, parents should be upfront about any changes at home, especially if the child's room has been converted into a sewing or workout room.</p>

<p>Savage tells parents to brace themselves. "They have this image that things will be exactly what it used to be." And usually it isn't.</p>

<p>Betty Hamlett concedes she learned the hard way. She has some advice for other parents: "Try to be as relaxed as you can. Don't try to pin your kid into a corner with requests or they will rebel."</p>

<p>Recipe</a> for stress: students' holiday homecomings - CNN.com</p>

<p>Realize too that they'll be DYING to see old friends and you will be dissed.</p>

<p>However, the seeing of the old friends may not live up to expectations-- as they have changed and so have their friends, and sometimes it will be a little bit empty-feeling because they are no longer current with one another. </p>

<p>They may feel they have moved on and so have their friends in ways that are hard to follow long distance (new SOs, new ideas, new friends, new interests), and being a bit estranged/unfamiliar may feel like a loss. </p>

<p>Or-- even if they do connect with key old friends-- nobody will organize anything spectacular, and it will be catch as catch can and thus anticlimactic. </p>

<p>So they may be disgruntled because in numerous ways Thanksgiving may not be a non-stop love/party festival of old friends like they probably imagined it would be.</p>

<p>This is how it went down at my house anyway.</p>

<p>Have lots of pie. :)</p>

<p>the big thing my D is looking forward to is a hair cut appointment....and shopping with friends</p>

<p>I think having a bit of a plan- ie the shooping, can create a neutral territory to catch up in</p>

<p>For many, some kids colleges epxeriences won't be as wonderful as for others- didn't live up to expectations, don't like the school, hard time making friends</p>

<p>Some students may have really started partying, others may have discovered new interests</p>

<p>For my D, she is in a different world from where her friends went to school- not better but just worlds away...but because they keep in touch via IM, text, facebook, it should be pretty much okay</p>

<p>I know it will be tough for my D to hold back about all she is doing- she is in NYC- and her friends stayed kind of local- but she is gracious and is truely happy that her friends are all doing well</p>

<p>I know I won't see my D much (in fact, H doesn't even know she is coming- it is a SUPRISE for him and the rest of the family!!!!!)</p>

<p>But if I have Thanksgiving Dinner and part of Sunday, that will be amazing</p>

<p>Since none of my college aged kids will be home for Thanksgiving, guess we'll avoid that scene. :(</p>

<p>But there's always Christmas!</p>

<p>Freshman year Thanksgiving break w/now senior D was terribly stressful. You could have cut the tension with a knife.
D2 will be home for the first time since leaving for school on the west coast in August. She already has plans for every minute, sigh. Thanksgiving Day is a mandatory home day, as well as a few other small times. I can already tell this is going to be tough on all of us. We laid down the rule about curfews while under our roof, drinking, etc. She has total freedom at school, but will have rules here. She was not happy at the conclusion of THAT conversation.</p>

<p>I agree that this break is a big time for freshmen. My D was the only one in her group to go more than a few hours away as well. She was very frustrated last year with he friends lack of adventure in choosing schools. It will be interesting to see how they all come out of this, whether or not their views of one another have changed. They put a lot of stock in this super-charged holiday, and I remember from D1 that a lot can change.</p>

<p>D1 is a sophomore and at Thanksgiving last year, she had not been home since Aug. I made sure that our home was a regular feather bed of comforts for her. Before she came home, we talked about the fact that curfew would still apply and she was annoyed at first, but respected our need for sleep. She was so appreciative of her home, her bed, the food, the clean bathroom, even the SMELL of the house, that it was really just a great experience for all of us. Yes, she spent most of her time with friends, but as SBMom says, it was not the same and she was ok with it. We told her to bring them all over and they all came. We had a group of 16 for dinner the day after Thanksgiving, and they had a farewell party Sunday at noon. I think that it went well because we all get along pretty well, and because we had few expectations other than dinner on Thanksgiving and we let boyfriend and her gang hang out here. Good luck!</p>

<p>I find it's hard for anyone to be unhappy, full of turkey and pie... Never had these problems.. except for the occasional threat of cooking a tofurky for my veggie D. I mean we can carve spam, why not tofu?</p>

<p>The other thought was a take off on turduchen (turkey,duck and chicken) with tofu... a tofu ken :o</p>

<p>Good article - I sent the link to a friend who's D is a freshman and also to my daughter. It is a good idea for us parents to not set our expectations too high. Easier said than done though.</p>

<p>I was thinking the other day about why I find it trickier to balance my relationship (as in I feel like I am walking on eggshells half the time) with my kids (18 & 21) that my relationship with my Mum at that age. Came to the conclusion it is because I really and trully was financially independent at that age (I was married at 19 and buying my 1st house by 22 - did not go to University). So our relationship became more adult to adult earlier. My kids are of an age where they want to be independant but really are not - at least not financially. So they get annoyed when I ask certain questions because they want to be independant and I get irritated when I don't get answers because I am paying for stuff. Though in reality I am not paying much for my daughter as she got good scholarships - but I still pester her because I don't want her to lose them as they have high grade requirements. It is much harder to deal with the changing relationship when we are in this kind of twilight zone between childhood and real adulthood (as in paying your own bills).</p>

<p>Well that is a bit rambly and a little off topic - but the article reminded me of some of the stuff I have been brooding on ;)</p>

<p>Life is strange! No sooner had I posted this than my oldest son called and said he might be home for a little while today. His roommate's transportation fell through and so she gave him a couple of bucks to drive her to the SF airport! Hope they make it on time for her flight! It's a bit of a drive from Arcata. He'll have to drive back tomorrow I guess, because he is working, so won't stay until Thanksgiving, but a visit is a visit! :) :) :)</p>

<p>I'm beginning to think that the seemingly pointless Fall Breaks that some colleges have actually do have a purpose.</p>

<p>When my daughter came home for Fall Break, it didn't seem that different from last summer because she hadn't been gone very long. And between her urgent need to buy winter clothing and her equally urgent need to visit with friends attending our nearby state university, she had plenty to do.</p>

<p>After that, Thanksgiving doesn't seem so weird. It's just Fall Break all over again, except with turkey.</p>

<p>I have come to expect my S (jr) to arrive at home, give us the requisite hug, and then hit the door running to see friends. All of his high school friends (guys and girls) stayed instate for college and still remain very close. They road trip to the various universities to see each other all the time and always have plans for holiday vacations at home. </p>

<p>The first year, my feelings were a little hurt over his lack of interest in hanging out with Mom and Dad. Looking back, I don't know what I was thinking...he spent very little time at home in high sch, always off running around with his crowd.
Now, we're used to it and just happy to see him fly in and out.</p>

<p>Be prepared for a request for money. </p>

<p>This is more important for upperclassmen than for freshmen, but students with lower meal plans are likely running out of food at about this time of year--just in time for finals for students at quarter schools. </p>

<p>(I know it's on my list of things to do this Thanksgiving. :))</p>

<p>My husband and I were just talking about this very subject.
I haven't been happy with the way my son has handled communication with us and his siblings and plan to have a few words with him. My husband keeps warning me I have to approach the subject in a different way then I would have in the past.
I also know he is going to want to spend time with friends and the girlfriend but I am expecting him to give his family some attention. He has a much younger sister who worships him and she has been hurt that he has not made any contact with her.</p>

<p>This thread should be required reading for all parents of college students, particularly those with a college freshman coming home for the holidays. Our daughter follows the same pattern observed by others; her schedule seems to be packed with pre-arranged get togethers with friends and shopping for winter weather gear. Although we miss seeing them after their brief absence, we should all take pleasure in the fact that their independence is evidence that we are doing a good job of raising them to be healthy adults who can leave the nest.</p>

<p>Oh mom60, I feel your pain. My D is coming home for the first time since August and I've been very unhappy with her lack of communication with her younger sister. With my H and me, there has sort of been an ebb and flow, and even though there have been periods where I felt there wasn't enough communication, on balance I've been satisfied. But she hasn't made any effort to talk to her sister, and their only communication has been the very occasional IM talk. The result is that her little sister has emotionally distanced herself from my older D, and I have concerns about how that will all play out when they see each other face to face. And then of course we have relatives coming in so there won't be much time for any one to one visiting, anyway! I'm trying to postpone unpleasant conversations (i.e.having "a few words" as you put it) until Xmas break, when she will be home for a few weeks and everything will be less intense.</p>

<p>IMO the sibling talk should be swift and to the point.</p>

<p>I am an extreme stickler on being nice to siblings. Those littles WORSHIP the bigs. Adolescents can be very self involved so they need to be reminded about this sort of thing.</p>

<p>A few notes from the student side of things that hasn't been mentioned yet. I remember that my first Thanksgiving back home was rather emotional for me. The reason: I suddenly realized that home would never be "home" in the same way again. It would never be my one place to live for most of the time- quite a startling realization! Also, you start to figure out everything that you've missed out on. </p>

<p>On a happier note, my relationships with siblings, especially with my younger brother, got hugely better after I went to college. Not being near each other every single day helped us to appreciate each other more. So there is hope!</p>

<p>The first few times the kids came home, I found it very difficult. They seemed impossibly selfish and self-centered; I in turn was easily annoyed.</p>

<p>As strange as it sounds, I managed to turn this around by using principles of dog training. In positive training (also used for orcas and other big and dangerous animals), a signal is used to mark good behavior and then a treat/reward is given out as soon as possible afterwards. (So you'd whistle for a jump out of the water and reward when the orca came to the side.)</p>

<p>At my husband's suggestion, because he was tired of watching me fight with the kids, I put a stack of $ bills in my pocket and pulled one out as soon as I spotted the kids doing something I liked. The first time I pulled out a bill when my D emptied the dishwasher without me asking, she about keeled over with shock. This went on for an entire vacation. It cost me about $20/kid (total) and became a running joke... but the kids never asked for money, they offered all kinds of nice behaviors--like hanging their towels up and cleaning the kitchen--and most importantly, I didn't have to yell at them once. </p>

<p>I also gave them other rewards, such as "thanks for doing that!" and a hug, for example. They never knew what was coming next, but I found it so much fun to find things to reward that life got much easier all the way around. It also got easier for me to ignore the small annoyances.</p>

<p>My sophomore daughter is coming home Tues. for Thanksgiving, but I already know she want time with friends. so on wed , she is working 1/2 day for me (to earn money, if nothing else) and then I have already said Wed afternoon/evening /late night is her time to spend with friends. </p>

<p>Thursday of course is family time, Fri she is going to Magic Mountain with friends, Sat and Sun we are visiting grandparents in central cali 4 hours away, and late sun she flies from LA back to texas. (we are doing the going up and coming back down overnight visit to see her grandparents bc my parents are aging, and every moment with them is more and more precious).</p>

<p>Last year, eg freshman year, was more tramatic than this year, in terms of getting used to dd not being home, and when she is home, she is always out and about.</p>

<p>At the beginning of her Christmas holidays this year, right after finals are over, she already has planned a trip from LA to SF with 3 of her girlfriends from Dec 17 - 21 (complete with airflights and hotels, which she is paying for on her own). I don't know if I should sigh, or count my blessings because dd has transitioned to being the independent college student so wonderfully. </p>

<p>It will probably be harder this upcoming fall since DD2 will now be a freshman away at college (and DD1 will be probably in Spain studying abroad!). Sigh, sometimes I wish my kids were 5 years younger and all back home.</p>