MomsEveryday: College kids coming home for the summer

MADISON,Wis. (WMTV)-- When your student comes home for the summer after the first year at college, life will be different from what it was before. Although that seems obvious, without giving it some prior thought, misunderstandings and conflicts can arise when your student seems to be following a script that is different from yours.

Living away from home for a school year is a life-changing event, and your student will be accustomed to independence, especially after spending the last year in a relatively unsupervised environment. This could be an area of conflict if you expect a phone call to let you know when your student will be home. Be sure to negotiate conflicts early to avoid tensions later on.

On the other hand, you may be anticipating newfound maturity and independence, and be disappointed to find the kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes, laundry left for you to do, and the gas tank on empty when you need the car. It can be daunting to realize that even though your student is now technically an adult, your role as a mentor and coach is still in play.

In the process of launching your student as an independent adult, you will need to continue reinventing just what that role is. You also may think you know your student's interests and identity, but you could find that your student has made some major changes without discussing those changes with you. The young woman who was set on being a veterinarian may now want to study history, and she may also refuse to participate in the family religion. The young man who was adamantly opposed to an earring may come home with a tattoo or a nose ring. There may be some emotional and rocky times during the summer, but your lives will be enriched if mutual respect and listening are the guides you and your student establish for staying connected with each other.
Here are a few tips for conversations you may want to have with your student to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.

-Schedule time with your student to make sure activities that are important to you aren't lost in the shuffle.
-Have a conversation with your student about expectations for schedules, housework, and behavior during the summer. Decide whether the original rules of the house still apply, and also consider some extra flexibility to take into account your student's new-found independence and autonomy.
-Discuss summer plans will your student return to a hometown job, start an internship, or volunteer?
-Encourage your student to utilize summer as a time to reflect on future academic and career plans. While students are concentrating on midterms, papers, and other commitments during the academic year, they may have fewer distractions during break.