When we’re parents of busy teens on holiday break, and especially of young adult kids coming home for the holidays, it’s easy to get excited about having everyone together and to make big plans for everyone. But our expectations can sometimes be too high and, when those expectations are unfulfilled, frustration and disappointment often follow.
So, here are 3 things to keep in mind as our children join us for the holidays:
1. They may be getting more accustomed to managing their life.
Having been away from home, our children have probably gotten used to managing a lot of things on their own. So try to realize when they do come home, they may not need you to make as many decisions for them and certainly don’t need you to tell them what to do every day, as you may have done when they were living at home.
So give them some space, enjoy being with them, and patiently discover what’s new in their life. Use open-ended questions to engage them in conversations about their life, their struggles, and their priorities. And then be sure to listen well.
Ask open-ended questions to engage your young adult children about life, struggles, and priorities.
2. They may want to spend time with friends, not just family.
Manage schedule expectations carefully and early — for yourself and for them. Don’t be offended if they want to hang out with friends they haven’t seen in a while. But don’t be afraid to let them know of your desire to be with them too. If you’re not clear on what times you hope to have with them, don’t be surprised if they fill that time in other ways.
One way Susan and I have tried to address this up-front is to create an early “holiday agenda” to outline important family activities, church services, and traditions that we want our teens and adult kids to make a priority. Give them time to review the list and give feedback or share potential schedule conflicts ahead of time.
3. They need to understand any expectations you have while they are staying at home.
Your children will want to come home to relax and enjoy the holidays and you want them to. So that you can enjoy it with them, you need to gently remind them ahead of time to pitch in and help with meals, dishes, and other chores. Don’t wait until tensions are high to make this point. You may also want to encourage them to remember common courtesies while they’re home, such as being quiet while others are sleeping and picking up after themselves.
What other suggestions do you have regarding teens and young adult kids at home for the holidays? Please share below.