If you’re worried about getting wrinkles, I highly recommend visiting your parents back home – you’ll feel the years flying off your life in no time.
In all seriousness, going home after a period of time away can be as much of a transition as it was to move out in the first place. The return to family life – living according to your parents’ routine, helping out with chores, obeying curfews – can feel a little infantilizing after months of freedom. Your parents have had to adjust to your absence, and might clash with the sense of independence you acquired during your time away and subsequently feel entitled to exercise upon your return.
Here are some helpful tips to reduce tension and keep your family visit feud-free!
Set a positive tone for the visit.
Planning is key. If you are honest about going out (inform your parents where you are going, who you’ll be with, and agree on what time you will be home), this will set the tone for the way any subsequent outings are treated. If all goes well the first couple of times, your parents might be less likely to clamp down. However, try to remember that your family hasn’t seen you in months. Hang out with them! Sleeping in late and spending a lot of time out of the house right away are not exactly conducive to catching up with your parents and siblings.
Choose your battles wisely – avoid whining about doing chores.
Keep in mind that you will have to negotiate with your parents over the course of your stay. Choose your battles wisely – if you just do the laundry or mow the lawn instead of putting it off or complaining about it, your parents might be more receptive to the idea of you staying out later to catch up with friends. Also, griping about having to pitch in to wash the dishes is probably not the ideal way to send the message that you have become a responsible, polite, and mature young adult. If you live off-campus, you’ll know how much work goes into keeping your home a nice place to live – when you go home, there are more people to cook for and pick up after, so try to help out in addition to pulling your own weight.
In times of conflict, REMAIN CALM.
Nothing makes you resemble an irrational teenager quite like bellowing at your mother. Do yourself a favour and try to keep your temper in check, no matter how difficult it is to rein in. Maintaining a calm demeanour will demonstrate that you are capable of handling a situation with reason and composure, and you need to seem reasonable in order for your parents to take you seriously when you are upset by something.
Try to communicate how you feel while considering things from their perspective. You have had many new experiences while at university, and have grown a great deal as a result, but your parents still see the same kid who left home a few months ago. Just because your parents have an outdated idea of who you are doesn’t mean that you have to revert to the same habits you had before you left. Take the opportunity to show your parents how much you have matured in the time you’ve spent away from home. They’ll worry a (tiny, infinitesimal) bit less if you seem capable of helping out, cleaning up after yourself, and being polite.
Be strategic about seeing friends, staying out late, and extending your curfew.
Campus life offers this surreal alternate universe where people wake up when they feel like it, come and go as they please, have friends over as late as they want, and Nutella is practically its own food group. While it can be a bit of a rude awakening to come home and surrender your Nutella spoon at the door, you don’t have to sacrifice everything. Be prepared to compromise – and again, negotiation is key. If you have been helpful, present, and polite, your parents will be more receptive to letting you exercise more independence at home.
Appreciate the limited amount of time you have left together.
As much as a stint at home can test your patience, keep in mind that the amount of time you spend together is ultimately finite. You’ll be on your way back to campus soon enough, and then there will be nobody around to stock the fridge or steal socks from, let alone provide the kind of unconditional love and support that family members can offer. As much as a parental overload can feel stifling, you’ll really miss them when they’re far away. No matter how grown up you feel, your parents will always see you as their child, and that is incredibly special.