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When College Kids Come Home: Winter Break Survival

3 ways to survive the challenges of a four-week visit

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You made it through Thanksgiving break with your college kids, but the long winter break brings new challenges, including boredom, family rifts and, often, culture shock.

Over Thanksgiving, you probably treated your college kid like a guest, making his favorite foods and pampering him. You probably did it for the first day or two of winter break too. But now, as the days pass, you've started expecting him to take a more active role as a family member. Wake up! Make your bed, empty the dishwasher, do your own laundry - and finally, “What do you think this is, a hotel?”

Here are three quick ways to meet those challenges.

  • Communicate: Don’t order your teen around or expect him to read your mind. Sit down at the start of the break and talk about your expectations. What are his plans? What are yours? Discuss household chores, family obligations, and fun things you might do together.

  • Prepare for Culture Shock: As excited as your teen was to catch up with high school friends over Thanksgiving break, as the weeks pass, many kids begin to experience a certain culture shock. Life back home is very different from the excitement of university life. It may dawn on them that they have more in common with their new college friends than their childhood friends – and they may feel depressed, disloyal and isolated all at once. It’s a difficult time and a little compassion from you goes a long way.

  • Plan Family Events: While Thanksgiving passed in a whirlwind of activities and you may have barely seen your college kid, winter break – particularly for kids on the semester system who get nearly a month off – may bog down in feelings of boredom. Instead of trying to jam family events into the frenzied days before New Year’s, schedule them toward the end of break. Catch a concert or show, visit extended family or gather up the younger siblings and see a movie. This, at last, is family time. Enjoy it.

Looking for more holiday tips? Read more from About.com's parenting guides on holiday stress relief for parents , plus a Family Holiday Survival Guide.

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