As the father of two daughters who left “the nest” to attend Canisius College, I feel obliged to share some of my thoughts and impressions with parents who are about to welcome their student back home. My sincere hope is that my personal experiences may lend some assistance and support to fellow parents of the Canisius Community who may be facing a challenging time.
First and foremost parents, be prepared. That student to which you made a concerted effort to raise and lead to a life of normalcy, will return as a nocturnal animal. They will sleep by day, forage for food, and seek out their friends by night. Indeed, many a night when I was on my way up the stairs to go to bed, they were on their way downstairs to go out. Unless you are adept at crisis prevention, this will not change during the duration of their visit. Your household routine will be in real peril. Note also that once your student has made plans, they are going out. There can be a blizzard equal to the intensity of the famed Blizzard of ’77 raging, but they are still going out. The area may be in snow emergency status, the National Guard may be called up, but it doesn’t matter. They have made plans to go out.
Secondly, you will find that somewhere along the line, your student has, in their mind, won the privilege of the family car. They will expect it to be at their disposal. Your schedule and needs will become secondary. This will ultimately lead to a showdown. The situation may become so tense that you might want to hide all sets of keys. Put them in a place where they are not likely to frequent, such as near the vacuum cleaner, washing machine or snow shovels.
A word of warning: Should you be able to reach a temporary peace in your home, avoid certain situations that may well rekindle conflict. Avoid asking your student for help with your computer or smart phone. Though they are well versed in both, for some reason they seem to resent tutorials for the less knowledgeable. Give them plenty of notice about attending required family and friend social functions. Concede the remote. Tell them that you love them, even though they are making you crazy. Resist all temptation to changing the locks.
Be firm but loving. Check to see if there is a crisis hotline for parents of college students in your community. Remember, you are not alone. We all love our children. We wept when they left for college. Don’t be surprised if you don’t weep when they go back.