College Kids Home for the Holidays: G&F in The New York Times

Here is the fantasy: After months of missing our college kids we eagerly await their return for Thanksgiving. In our dreams we spend cozy hours in the kitchen listening to them recount their experiences and marveling at the newly mature teen who sits before us. Our kids have looked forward to these days of rest and reunion and are thrilled to come home to the embrace of their families. Food will be abundant and family time sacred.

College kids home for the holidays

Here is the reality: One of my college sons gets a ride home for Thanksgiving. He steps just far enough into our home to drop his dirty laundry in a large unkempt pile on the floor. He is barely across the threshold when his high school friends pull into our driveway. Before my husband and I have laid eyes on our son, he shouts “I’ll be back, see you later. It will probably be really late.” and walks back through the door he entered, let’s call it, 45 seconds earlier.

The collision course of parent expectations and college student reality is one that plays out over each holiday break and summer vacation. Battle lines are drawn soon after our kids arrive home and despite the best intentions we begin to argue. They sleep when we are awake and vice versa. They forget that family members work or go to school as they and their friends wander in and out of our house at all hours. They spread debris over every horizontal surface, leaving our homes looking much like their dorms.

Despite months of missing my college kids, it took only minutes for my frustration to surface last year. I held fast to our fantasy weekend as our real one unfolded. This year, I hope to do better.

Read the rest of Lisa’s story in The New York Times: “Thanksgiving, With College Students: Fantasy, Reality, and Getting It Right.”

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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