How to Handle Holiday Break with Your College Freshman


Having your child back from college for the first time can be a tough transition. Read these tips.

By Teen Parenting Expert, Barbara Greenberg, PhD, for

5 tips for parents with children in college

You have been dying to see your teenage college freshman and have been planning for weeks for their arrival home for winter break in between terms or semesters at college. This may even be their first time home since beginning school. You have been cleaning their rooms, buying their favorite foods, and have been so distracted about the idea that you are going to see your babies.

Well, let me tell you that you are in for some surprises. Listen up so that you are prepared for what may and may not happen during their brief holiday visits home.

First, they may appear to be more interested in seeing their high school friends than their families

In fact, this is quite likely. If this happens I want you not to be too distressed or disappointed. This is NORMAL. They need to see their high school friends so that they can compare notes about college. They spent most of senior year obsessing, worrying and wondering about where they would go to college, whether or not they would make good friends in college, and if they would remain friends with their high school buddies. My suggestion is that you let them enjoy this time with their high school friends. They need this time. It does not mean that they don't love you and/or don't miss you. Instead, it means that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, developmentally speaking. It's sort of like a rite of passage. I'd be more concerned about the teen who is back from college and has no interest at all in catching up with high school friends.

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Second, expect them to sleep. A lot

Your kids may come home and literally sleep like there's no tomorrow or no today to wake up to. I say let them sleep. They are home in their cozy beds and are simply luxuriating in coziness and catching up on sleep deprivation. I remember coming home from college and sleeping until 1 PM. I was just so exhausted. And, when I woke up rested I was in a much better mood. We know that exhaustion leads to irritability so let the teens sleep!

Third, they may look a little different

You may be a little surprised to see that your teens have begun to put on the Freshman 15. They are already painfully aware of any weight gain. They spend a lot of time socializing around food and eating way too many carbs. I suggest that you do not discuss this topic unless you want your teens to run screaming from the holiday table. You don't want this, right? Be glad to finally have their attention.

Fourth, they think you've forgotten curfews

The college freshman may not expect to have curfews anymore since they make their own curfews at school. I say that when they are in your home and theirs, of course, that they stick to your curfews. This is simply a matter of family rules and courtesy.


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Finally, your teens may seem a little more mature

You may be surprised that you have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, you are happy that your teen sons and daughters are growing up. On the other hand, it's bittersweet to see your babies turn into mature individuals. This process will get easier over time. I promise. I've been there.

Despite all of the changes, embrace and enjoy your teen's visit home. Have a happy holiday break together!

What tips do you have for other parents of teens who are home for the holidays?

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.