Parents frequently find themselves wondering what happened to their kids as they transition from one stage to another — from toddler to school-age to teenager, and from high school student to college student. Each stage can bring dramatic changes, but one that can be particularly challenging is when your child moves home for the summer after experiencing their new-found freedom as a college freshman.
Fathers can be influential in helping their child make a smooth transition from residence hall or apartment life to adapting to living back at home. Respecting their status and independence without sacrificing family needs will help to maintain healthy relationships.
▪ Sit down together before they return home and spell out your concerns and listen to theirs. You should be able to address most of the issues (sharing vehicles is one that comes to mind) together as responsible adults.
▪ Set an expectation that they communicate with you as to where they will be if making plans to stay overnight elsewhere and to call you if their plans change.
▪ Agree on some weekly chores they can complete so they have a sense of responsibility to contribute to managing the household. Having them do their own laundry and keeping their room clean are appropriate expectations.
▪ Parents should not feel like they must be at their child’s disposal, but neither should they take unfair advantage of them. Don’t expect them to always want to hang out with you. They will be much more tuned into friends and maintaining college relationships.
The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. To comment on this article, for more information or to join local conversations, contact Chris Dufour at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marc McCann at email@example.com.