Winter Break: How to Peacefully Coexist With your College Kid

College kids long for the luxurious winter break between fall and spring semesters. But as time passes, family stress levels can shoot sky-high as parents and their offspring engage in a renegotiation of rules and roles that were once well-defined. Lisa has written a guide for parents grappling with returning college students for  An excerpt follows:

Many parents of college students are eagerly counting the days until winter break and looking forward to some quality family time. It can be easy to forget that their grown kids will be home for a whole month or more with little to do other than raid the refrigerator, and that their presence (and late nights) can disrupt the daily lives of working parents and younger siblings.

College kids home for the winter break

With a little forethought and honest conversation, though, parents really can score the family holiday time of their dreams. Here are some tips, from parents of college kids who have been there, done that.

Ways to Survive Your College Student’s Winter Break

1. Prepare yourself.

Over Thanksgiving break, you may have gotten a taste of what is to come later this month. Many college kids tend to sleep all morning, then run off with their high school friends and disrupt the rest of the household with late-night comings and goings. Sharon Greenthal, the mother of a 24- and 26-year-old and a writer at Empty House Full Mind, offers this suggestion: “Don’t change your routine or plans while your college student is home for the long winter break. While you may think you need to be available to them at the drop of a hat, it’s important that you keep your life going the way it does when they are at school.”

2. Agree on some rules.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” suggests that parents sit down for a frank discussion with their college kids shortly after they arrive home. If there are family rules — about underage drinking, for example — Lythcott-Haims says parents can tell their kids, “‘I know that you have been having a lot of freedom and independence in college. When you are back here under our roof, though, the rules we had in place still apply. You are under 21 and you are not allowed to drink.’ Parents get to articulate their own values while acknowledging that this may chafe at their kid who has had unbridled freedom.”

To continue reading about other ideas for keeping stress levels low during your college student’s winter break, click here College kids home for the holidays? 8 ways to make it fun, not frustrating on


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Photo credit: Brian

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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