Dec. 20, 2004

Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

Ten tips for parents of college students: How to keep the holidays happy

LAWRENCE -- Holidays are high-stress periods, and conflicts are normal, especially for parents of a college freshman returning home for the first time since experiencing a new independent life at college.

The University of Kansas offers 10 tips for the holiday time at home.

1. Talk with your student about your expectations for the visit in advance so there are no surprises.

2. Discuss the house rules and how they might differ from what the student has experienced the past four months.

3. Give students time to catch up with high school friends, and establish family time. Students may also need time to be alone, take walks or go to another room and read. Give yourself and your student space.

4. Understand that disagreements between students and parents can be discussed and not just swept under the rug.

5. Accept your differences. The relationships you have with your family are far more important than winning an argument.

6. Keep a sense of humor while your student is at home. Try to laugh off the small conflicts.

7. Cultivate a mutual respect across generational lines for different values and needs.

8. Encourage your student to be a considerate guest and not tie up the telephone or computer lines or hog the television.

9. Have realistic expectations about the visit. Look forward to it, but do not expect a magical visit simply because your student has been away at college.

10. Having a good visit home involves planning and a willingness to adapt behaviors to the situation. While your student has been changing, you and other family members have, too. Share what has changed and enjoy what is new.

Kathryn Nemeth Tuttle, associate vice provost for student success and former director of KU's Freshman-Sophomore Advising Center, recommends that parents ask questions and offer encouragement during the holidays.

" Talk with your student about what went well in the fall semester, what they found challenging and what adjustments they plan to make for the spring semester," Tuttle says. "It is vital that college students learn to navigate the academic system at KU on their own. But parents can maintain an active role by asking questions, keeping the communication lines open and talking with them about their current and future classes."

Parents should also encourage their students to talk with their academic advisers, instructors or faculty members and to take advantage of the many student assistance offices at KU, Tuttle said.

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