If you have college age students or young adults it’s quite possible you acquired new house guests in the past two weeks. While many of us are thrilled to have our families intact, is critical to get out of the gate on a good foot.
First, we want to acknowledge that their lives have been severely disrupted. They have gone from living independently, having unlimited access to their friends, and anticipating graduation and internships. Now, of course, seniors are finding themselves at home rather than walking across the graduation stage, grasping that hard earned diploma, and celebrating with their friends. This is a huge loss and it is expected that they are experiencing anxiety, anger, and frustration. Who wouldn’t have those feelings?
Our college age students are now in the bedrooms where they spent their childhoods, dressed in their pajamas in Zoom classrooms. While most, if not all of the college students I have spoken with are dealing with these changes extremely well, it important for parents to have patience and understanding with their children during this unprecedented time.
If you have high school or middle school students, the issues are largely similar. The steps below apply to teens as well as young adults, just make age related modifications.
What are the steps that parents and their children can take to help this transition to go smoothly?
1-COMMUNICATE! If you haven’t done it already, have a frank conversation. These are the questions I asked my sons, “What can I do to make this easier for you?” “What do you need me to do or not do?” Both of my sons had concerns about privacy. They asked that I text them when I want to talk to them rather than go into the rooms they are in. Easy enough. At the same time, I let them know what I needed from them. “Please keep your rooms clean and neat. Clean up the kitchen, and take care of the cats.”
So far so good. It’s been 4 weeks with one son and 28 hours (at this writing) with the older son.
2- Let them have their space. Seriously, get out of their grills. You won’t regret it, and you will buy yourself some good will with them. Avoid micro-managing, and let them take responsibility. If they miss a lecture or assignments, it is their responsibility to deal with it. Teachers are taking attendance. Parents have enough to worry about.
3-Set boundaries! I’ve written about boundaries and setting limits for a couple of months, so I trust you have this down, right? You will no doubt have to make some unpopular decisions around friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. This too shall pass!
4-Take care of yourself! Do what you need to do. Take solo time, talk with friends, get your to-do list done, and read all those books that you have been collecting from Amazon.
5-Take this opportunity to re-connect with your friends and family. This past week I have been able to catch up with friends and family who I have missed in the past months. That has been a source of joy for me.
Of course, this is a stressful time for all of us. We are all dealing with different sets of circumstances, so it is important to be kind and refrain from judgment.
As we are largely confined to our homes and most of the freedom we’ve had in the past is curtailed, your perspective is important.
How you look at this will determine your stress level as well as the stress level in your home. Give me a call if you’d like to explore how you can gain a new perspective on our new normal or discuss how to decrease anxiety or have effective communication with your families. Heck, if you just want to check in and vent, I’m here!
Stay safe and take care!