Summer (and the heat!) is finally here! And with that, comes a whole new host of changes and different family dynamics. One shift, in particular – college students are home!
As with any change, there are positives and negatives to this shift. One positive might be the inevitable family reunion after a long semester filled with stressful nights studying for midterms, meeting and balancing new friendships, and maintaining relationships with family and friends at home. It takes a lot of energy to attend college so coming home can be a big relief. You get to see old friends and start summer jobs. You get to connect with siblings and catch up with family.
However, this can also be a challenging shift for the whole family as the relationship is somewhat blurred between parent and college student.
Do you have an Adult-Child or an Adult-Adult relationship?
While away at school, college students experience freedom and autonomy. It can be challenging to live under someone else’s roof again, and follow someone else’s rules, curfews and expectations. There may be expectations about chores and other duties. Things change and it feels different. This can be challenging for everyone.
Because the relationship is moving from adult-child to adult-adult, it is important to start off with a conversation about expectations on both sides.
How can your family honor your independence while also holding you to a high standard of respect? This is where the art of compromise comes into play! Dr. Gottmann explains this technique to help couples manage conflict but it can also be applied to familial relationships:
“Remember, you can only be influential if you accept influence. Compromise never feels perfect. Everyone gains something and everyone loses something. The important thing is feeling understood, respected, and honored in your dreams.”
Many people forget that to reach a compromise, you have to give a little to get a little on both sides. Too many times, we see people attempting to compromise without giving a little, what Dr. Gottman describes as “accepting influence”. A parent tells their college-age child that they cannot take the car. The college-age child tell their parent that they are going to stay out all night. There is no give in this conversation so it most likely will lead to tension, conflict and power struggle.
What if the college-age child could take the car out until midnight at which he or she was expected to be home? You have to be willing to bend a little in order to gain something.
The art of compromise is a skill that can be applied throughout the life-span and is important to practice. It can lead to increased communication and healthier interpersonal relationships in general. Summer is here so let’s use this as a time to practice an important skill that will benefit every member of your family now and beyond.
Helping college-age kids is one of Gretchen’s favorite passions. Whether it’s the transition home for the summer, winter breaks, or preparing for going off to school — Gretchen loves helping! If you’d like to schedule a summer tune-up, contact (847) 919-9096 ext 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Gretchen and Katelyn are also offering a College Yoga workshop to help combat anxiety — no experience needed! Be sure to check it out and register if you or your child is able to attend.