Caution! Kids Coming Home from College!!

I can’t wait ’til the kids come home from college!! That means the true festivities can begin! Putting up the tree together, making cookies, conversations around the dinner table, and hearing all about their world!

Sometimes I think they are as excited as I am. It means that finals are over and the pressure is off for a few weeks. Yeah! No more studying and no more tests! A true break from their stressed out world.

The first week or so are usually great! I let them sleep in for a few days, knowing they are tired from the chaotic world they live in.

They’re content to spend time talking and just hanging out with the family…

But then it happens.

Once the Christmas preparations are over…

Once the presents are unwrapped …

Once they’ve caught up on sleep and they’ve talked us through their life on campus…

Boredom sets in.

And tension between the siblings starts getting more pronounced.

Sometimes they find contentment in trying to reconnect with high school friends…sometimes they do not…

They typically start living in our home, like they live in their dorm room…forgetting about the “rules for picking up after themselves.”

And with anxious anticipation, they’re ready to leave…wishing it was time to go back to their college routine…wanting to regain their independence!

Unfortunately, sometimes we think that won’t come soon enough.


How do we create an environment that will last through our college kid’s entire break? So when they leave, it is with memories of good times and anticipation of the next time they get to come home?

GRACE…lots of GRACE!

And setting of expectations.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. Ephesians 4: 29

Several years ago, one of my sons had just returned to college for the last semester of his senior year. By then, I’d experienced several Christmas breaks where he just wanted to be back at school…back to his independent world…and this one had been no different.

And two weeks into the semester, he was back, sitting on my couch for what I knew would be a long road. His world had turned upside down in the matter of a few minutes with a shattered foot, surgery, and a long recovery. No graduation…no friends…no life…and very little to look forward to. He couldn’t work, he couldn’t drive, he couldn’t pick up after himself, and his friends from high school years were all long gone. His world became one of isolation with only family.

And because of his circumstances, I was able to extend Grace…lots of Grace!

It dawned on me that I could either look at this as an invasion to my world…woe is me.


I could look at this as an opportunity to build an adult relationship with a son who was stuck in a place where he didn’t necessarily want to be.

And we had a conversation…

“Son, I know this will be a difficult time for you. I know that you want to be back at school living an independent life with your friends and the world you’ve created. I also know that I’m used to a level of independence since you no longer live here.”

“I also know that this is a season and that it will be hard for all of us.”

“There are going to be times, when you are going to get on my nerves and I won’t handle it well. There are going to be times when everyone in this house gets on your nerves, and you won’t handle it well. But we are going to work through the conflict. We’re going to talk through our feelings. And we are all going to get through this together. Your total independence is coming and I want us to both be working toward the same goal.”

“When you leave this house, son, I want to leave here with fond memories and not memories of strife. When you leave here, I want us to still be friends.”

“You and I have the same goal…your independence!”

As parents, we need to encourage our children’s independence. We certainly don’t want them living in our basement for the rest of their lives.:)

DARE YOU this holiday season to extend GRACE.

DOUBLE DARE YOU to post how you deal with the holiday boredom conflict.

Still learning how to extend His grace to my kids.

“Let go…and let God!”


2 replies
  1. mandisantiago
    mandisantiago says:

    College age kids… oh boy. Talk about a challenge. I have a sibling who has remained in the college phase indefinitely and in gender there are some very different challenges. She is hip. Tres Chic. The rest of us are fashion plebes who are stuck in the early 80’s as far as she is concerned. I also notice that the communication style of kids in the college years is still half formed. To volley a conversation on a given topic indefinitely, just for the enjoyment of rambling and sharing words and time hasn’t developed yet. Conversations are approached as a debate. They are a precursor to action or an obstacle to whatever she is thinking about doing at the time. Her time, is a commodity. Discussing the merits of one brand over another is something to be resolved rather than savored, to the escalation of a topic that the rest of the room is casually conversing upon. She seems to feel a pressure to hurry but she hasn’t matured to a place where discerning the things that are truly urgent and the places where patience is the virtue has not developed yet. Even though the games are getting bigger, up into our mid to even late twenties, we are still socially maturing. Even into the backside of my thirties I still fell like I’m just learning to apply my energy effectively to life building rather than practicing at life.

    At that age kids are practicing their conflict management skills on their parents. The safest place to be both right and wrong. Much like the toddler who only tantrums with mom, they are at their best and worst when they feel they will be loved unconditionally regardless of their actions.

    I think my parents look at me as the monster child, they know that they’re stuck with me cause I keep coming back, but at the same time they aren’t quite sure how the egg ended up in their nest in the first place. Mistaken zygote. A bit of the leftover scraps of the life they chose not to live grown into something they couldn’t even begin to own. A genetic monsterpiece. It’s in the blood. They shake their heads. So long as I come for coffee and the discussion of the latest treasure from abroad, or to hear the ‘updates’ on distant family, I am a perfectly acceptable guest, but I can hear the sighs of relief from the other side of the door as it closes behind me when I leave.

    Respect, respect, respect is all I can suggest. Seeing the child in your grown child and giving them the same space to develop as you gave them when they were learning to walk, talk and use the potty while respecting the autonomy they’ve developed is a balancing act. That and remember, they’re going to leave soon. lol. Hopefully before they trim the hedges out front, reorganize your kitchen or take over the guest bathroom in ways you fear it shall not recover from.

    • debbiehitchcock
      debbiehitchcock says:

      Mandi, I love your respect oomment! You are so right, our college kids need their space as they are trying to navigate their world of independence. God is trying to refine our conflict management skills through them sometimes!


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