Call this morning’s segment a public service for parents who have children returning home from college for the holiday break for the first time. I’m not counting Thanksgiving which was not really enough time to experience what may be coming down the road. This is also good advice for those of you who will be in this position in the future.

The Hallmark commercial would have you believe that the doorbell rings and you run to it and there is your daughter or son loaded down with suitcases and laundry.


You hug and squeeze them and they enter the home and the first thing you do is say “so how did your first semester go?” Then for the next hour or so over hot chocolate they tell you all the stories over their first extended period away from home.

That might have been the case back in the 50’s and 60’s but it’s not the way it works any longer. First you have probably heard many of the stories because you might talk or even video chat with "Stephanie" or "Mark" just about every day. Actually it’s likely if it’s a daughter you do have contact daily….with sons it’s probably a bit different.

Anyway let me get to the main course here. The child who left you in August has probably changed a lot as they return home in December and I’m not just talking physically(although they might have gained a pound or ten). They have discovered freedom and even if you gave them a lot of space before they are probably going to want even more now. This all falls under the category of “out of sight, out of mind.”

When it was 2am on a Saturday morning and they were at school you didn’t give much thought to what they were doing…or not doing. However your sweet little child could have been at a frat party doing the same things you did 30 years earlier and I’m not talking about swallowing gold fish. They also have not had to bother with curfews or making their bed, or wearing neat and clean clothing or frankly anything else when it comes to what you expected.

But now they’re home and you want everything to go back to what it was several months earlier. Good luck! Actually what you’ll need to do is have a quick meeting and lay out the ground rules for their return. That is unless you want to be leaving for work while they are returning home from a night out….never a good thing. By the way they are coming back with the mindset that this is their vacation while for you it’s anything but. So my advice would be to grab the bull by the horns and have the talk now about curfews, expectations and more. Maybe even do it over a cup of hot chocolate.