The transition home for the summer can lead many families to conflict and resentment. Most of this stems from lack of communication, says Craig Rooney, Ph.D, director of Behavioral Health at the MU Student Health Center.

Vacation Travel SuppliesTry to prepare yourself for the fact that your student has changed. He or she has spent the school year making their own decisions about what they eat, when they wake up, when they come home at night, etc. Meeting them with a list of rules and demands at the door won’t make a joyful summer for anyone in the family. Rooney suggests trying to meet them halfway. Maybe they don’t have to be home at 10 pm, but they do have to tell you the time they will be home and text or call if they won’t make that time. Or, maybe you let them sleep in the first week, but then establish a reasonable time they need to wake up (ex. 10 a.m.) so the rest of the family can go about their day.

Another conflict area is how the family as a whole spends their time. Many parents feel hurt when students come home for the summer and then dash off to see their friends. Students can also feel overwhelmed if they are expected to spend all day, every day with their parents. Rooney suggests finding a time to calmly sit down as a family and discuss what the family will do together over break. Be sure to include time apart. Parents need time to be together as partners, students need time to hang out with friends, and everyone could use some alone time.

Take time to reconnect, and start building an adult-to-adult relationship. Whether they say it or not, there have been times this past year your student really missed you. While it’s nice to make their favorite meal and let them know you’re glad they’re home, resist the urge to do everything for them. Remember, they’ve had to take care of themselves for months; you may be surprised at some of the new skills they’ve acquired. Encourage them to make their own choices, such as the decision to get an internship or start a summer job. Let them know you support them developing into their own adult, because this is the type of relationship the two of you will have the rest of your lives.