Coming Home...On Loan from College!
Another academic year is coming to a close. For parents of first-year students, this has been a time of transition as your son or daughter has gone from being a high school to a college student. We all face adjustments as our children develop more independence. At times you have may have joyfully embraced the quiet while at others, you found your home to be too quiet. Now, the year is almost over and your children will be returning home for the summer. Everything will be just the way it was before…or will it?
My son′s first summer at home wasn't exactly what I'd anticipated, and after talking with other parents who've gone through this period of transition, I thought it might help to share our collective thoughts and experiences.
We found that our children had made many positive changes through their Geneva College experience. Their personal relationship with God grew deeper. They gained self-confidence, were more resourceful and better organized, self-motivated and independent, and better at handling their finances. After all, they had been dealing with the challenges of school and the college community of friends and faculty on their own. They had learned time management and how to juggle a social life with the rigors of academic pursuit. They were proud of their achievements and sometimes possessive of their new-found freedom.
There were also some changes that provided challenges. Our students weren't exactly the same as when they left our home and that took some getting used to. Part of the maturation process is becoming more independent and making more decisions on their own. For the most part, they hadn't needed to consider anyone but themselves for nine months, so fitting back into a family environment was a big change for them. They had to get used to answering to parents and sharing with siblings again.
As parents, we have to decide how to handle these changes. The advice of the parents with whom I have talked is to learn how to compromise and to not sweat the little things. At the same time there are non-negotiable items, such as going to the family reunion or a sister′s choral concert. It is important to embrace the changes in our children and show them that, while we still demand their respect and hold them to certain expectations and standards, we are ready to treat them as the young adults they've become. They need to know we're still there for them if they fall, but we aren't holding onto their hands while they walk anymore. We'll give advice when they ask, and hope they weigh it carefully, but not take it as a personal affront if they don't follow it.
This is also a wonderful time to witness the spiritual growth of our children. With personal attention from Christian faculty and staff, participation in Bible study groups, learning that comes from a faith perspective, and an abundance of serving and ministry opportunities, our students often deepen their faith in amazing ways. This makes us grateful that our children are at Geneva where there is a focus on Christian growth as well as academic excellence.
We also suggest you look for ways to connect with your child′s new interests and build bridges into their new lives. Shower them with support, praise and unconditional love. It is said that the moment a newborn is put into our care, we start preparing them to let go. You've done your job well, and now sit back and watch them fly. And enjoy the times they spend with you to the fullest. It will be all the better for their willingness to be there.
- Patti Zahnhausen