Your Coug is about to complete their first semester of college and will soon be traveling home for the holidays. It is important to recognize since their move, family dynamics, and expectations have likely shifted. Prepare for their visit by understanding these changes are normal to experience.

One of the more obvious changes your student has gone through is finding a sense of independence. This change is expected as your student moves away for the first time. However, it can be one of the more difficult changes to adjust to as a parent and family unit. Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment and schedule is a major challenge for most students. The shift in your Coug’s independence is an indication of a healthy transition.

Before their move to WSU, your student had a higher level of dependence on you. They had daily interactions with you and the family, followed household expectations, and their activities relied on your approval. These are the behaviors and expectations you have been accustomed to for their entire childhood and teenage years.

However, during their visit home, your Coug may expect flexibility with curfews, have a different sleep schedule, and make plans with friends. These behaviors may not be what you had in mind and might make you feel placed on the back burner. It is normal to feel frustrated and even disappointed during this time. What you’re feeling is the tension of two separate worlds coming together.

Your student’s plans may not align with your plans during their visit home. Understanding their plans and intentions during break can explain some of the frustrations you are feeling. Make sure to communicate any concerns you have while seeking to appreciate your student’s perspective and feelings. Visits are a learning experience for both you and your Coug. It’s okay to experience ups and downs during this time. While it is important to be supportive and understanding, your student still needs to respect specific responsibilities and rules you have set for the family.

Use these tips in preparation for your Coug’s first major visit home:

  1. Be open and supportive of the person your Coug is growing into
  2. Strike a balance between their new independence and family expectations
  3. Inform your student of any important changes within the household
  4. Ask your Coug if they have any plans during their visit
  5. Don’t overschedule their break