Welcoming Students Home for Winter Break

Tips from University Health and Counseling Services

As students begin arriving home for winter break, parents may be wondering what to expect. Will they feel positively about their final exams and projects? Eager to re-engage with family? Or too weary from the long semester to want much more than sleep?
Perhaps the most important point for families to remember is that everyone reacts differently to the pressures of the semester’s final days; your student’s initial state—whether giddy or groggy—is unlikely to stay the same through to the new year.
That said, the adage that college is a time of tremendous change persists because it is true. Students learn in and out of the classroom, gain greater understanding of the world and themselves, and grow closer to the independent adults they soon will be. 
Navigating a relationship with an emerging young adult means updating many of the skills parents have developed during their student's childhood and adolescence:
1. Negotiation: Students are accustomed to making their own small and large decisions, from when they choose to eat to what major they plan to pursue. Open a conversation about expectations early, recognizing that a willingness to compromise can contribute significantly to a positive visit. 
2. Patience: All of you are in a stage of adjustment; as students mature, their relationships with family also evolve. Establishing a new normal takes time, and parents and students alike should grant grace and compassion to one another. 
3. Boundaries: It is okay for parents to have rules. A strict curfew may no longer be appropriate, but parents should feel comfortable asking when their student expects to be home. After all, it’s a question spouses and partners often pose—not to restrict one another, but rather to be aware.
4. Action: Parents know their children best. Signs that a student may be struggling include sadness, withdrawal, tearfulness, and difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much. Concerned parents should encourage their students to reach out for help. Our counselor on-call (216.368.5872) and CWRU Care are available 24/7 including on Christmas and New Year’s. 

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, and look forward to welcoming your students back to campus in January.