Holiday Break - December 2012

Make the Most Out of the Holiday with Your Student

The lights are hung, the tinsel is strung, the presents are under the tree, and your student finally is coming home for Christmas break. After an exciting--but tiresome--semester, the break is a time for reconnection, rest and reflection. Director of Counseling Services Dr. Jim Marsh gives the following suggestions to help parents make the most of their student's holiday vacation.

Help your student recharge. After a rigorous few weeks of finals, students usually are exhausted, stressed and ready to relax.

"They've just finished one of the most intense academic experiences of their lives so far," Marsh says. "So I think most of them are really looking forward to coming home and sleeping in." Giving students some time to recover before launching into Christmas break plans can allow them to fully enjoy the festivities.

Take time to evaluate the fall semester. Once your student has rested, parents and students may want to sit down and discuss the first semester. You could evaluate what went well, what didn't and what adjustments need to be made for the coming semester. "I think the role of a parent starts to change a bit as students are going through this process of becoming more like an adult," Marsh says. "So it's more of a side-by-side role, saying, 'Hey, how did things go?'"

Talk about expectations. While at college, students undergo the process of becoming adults and making their own decisions. Students have been establishing their own curfew, dictating their study hours and eating whatever they please. When students return for the holiday, they may expect to continue their independence, which can cause tension. Marsh recommends that parents anticipate this and acknowledge positive changes. By communicating expectations with your student, your family can reach compromises and avoid conflict.

Traditions matter. Your student's college years are a time of transition. Coming home, some students cling to the traditions of their past as it gives them a sense of stability. Parents sometimes wonder if they need to plan specific activities for family bonding over the break.

"I don't know that parents have to do anything special or suddenly do anything different, but consider family traditions they've always done and continue with those," Marsh recommends.

Help plan for the spring. Class schedules for the coming semester, living arrangements for the fall and job or internship plans for the summer are all choices that students must make within the first few weeks of the spring semester. Upperclassmen have graduation on the horizon and must make important decisions about their life beyond Baylor. Planning ahead can reduce stress and broaden a student's opportunities.

The winter break can be a time filled with holiday cheer and family bonding. By following these tips, parents can help the holidays run smoothly for both them and their Baylor Bear.