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Tips for Family Visits

The saying, "you can never go home," has become a classic because it concisely speaks to the difficulty of being in your parents' house once you have lived out on your own. Things change once you leave home. You change (e.g., becoming more self-reliant); your parents have change (e.g., developing their own interests or focusing more of their attention on younger siblings); even your house may have changed (e.g., your room may have become an office or a sibling's bedroom). As a result, weekend and holiday visits back home often provide many challenges for both students and their parents.

Luckily, you and your parents can work together to make sure that visits home are fun times for everyone. Here are a few tips.

  • Remember that you are not the only one learning and growing. Parents do not magically know how to relate to their grown children as adults. They are facing the significant challenge of letting go of concerns, points of view, and behaviors that have been a part of them for years. Try to see the situation from their perspective (a little empathy can go a long way) and express to them your understanding of their struggle.
  • Talk with your parents about your plans for the visit home as soon as you arrive. Be flexible and include family time in these plans. That way, your parents will feel a part of your life and be less likely to attempt to plan your schedule for you. If you come from a divorced or blended family, work to develop strategies to reduce the pressures to be in two or more places at the same time.
  • Be reasonable. Do not expect to have the same level of freedom that you enjoy at school in your parents' house. Cooperate with them to develop new house rules (e.g., curfew) that reflect both their parental concerns and your new independence.
  • Avoid the trap of falling back into your old childhood roles. If you want your parents to see you as an adult, do your part by acting like one. Responsible adults pitch in around the house without being asked, are considerate and inform others of their plans, and live up to the promises and commitments they make. Make it easy for your parents to respect your decisions and newfound independence by acting in ways that are worthy of such respect.
  • Beat your parents to the punch by talking with them about your life at school (e.g., how you achieved your successes, how you handled challenges, etc.). What you might see as them being "nosey," they probably see as being interested and wanting to be involved in your life. If you feel too much time is being spent discussing college-related issues, negotiate with your parents times when school matters are off-limits.