“I’ll be home for Christmas….
unless I’m hanging out with my friends that I haven’t seen since high school because I'm going out late with them or I'm playing Xbox live til 3am and then sleeping in so you’ll never see me.”
Part II (forthcoming) for Parents: How to deal with your young adult children now that they’re back from college, work, coming up from the downstairs basement.
Here’s some things I’ve learned from experience, observation, and conversation: I’m starting with the college kids first because they don’t read the end of blogs/posts:
- Mind your P’s and Q’s: you aren’t used to having people care for you, serve you, and love you like your folks. Begin your sentences with “please” and end it with “thank you”. Especially when they volunteer to fold your laundry.
- Do chores, and don’t expect an allowance: I used to have a boss that said, “I show you that I appreciate you every two weeks with a paycheck”. Although he was being sarcastic it holds some truth. Be grateful. Do some work around the house and no complaining about it. Your parents likely co-signed your school loan, are giving you the keys to their car, or tapped into their retirement for your fancy educational institutional advancements. Help your old-man with some “able-bodied” strength with the Christmas lights or the tree. Offer to wrap gifts or bake items with your Mom. It’ll go a long way.
- Go with your folks to Church: Your intro to Philosophy teacher has made you question everything good about any religion but don’t project that onto your family values, sacred traditions, and authentic spirituality. Those values made you who you are and have instilled graces that you need now but perhaps won’t realize it til you’ve aged a little more. Don’t forget the Commandments, “Keep the Sabbath” and “Honor your Father and Mother”. Oh wait, they’re merely “suggestions” now ; )
In all seriousness, I’ve seen many college students return grateful, peaceful, and happy after they go to church with their family. There’s a deep connection with God that occurs within the walls of His house. Don’t sell it short. You’ll be blessed by it!
- Communicate: You report to no one and you do your own thing. We get that. Having common courtesy is often forgotten so you may need to train yourself to say, not just in your head but aloud and preferably to your parents “I’m going out and I’ll be back in two hours”. This makes a huge difference vs. getting the keys and saying, “bye”. Perhaps Aunt Meredtih is coming over for dinner that night and your folks forgot to tell you. Maybe your cousin is making a surprise visit and Mom and Dad want need to know when you’ll be back.
- Pick up the phone and text Your Mom- she still worries about you: Although no curfew exists you should still try and be home at a decent hour and/or text her that you’re at Denny’s and not passed out in some dark alley. She’ll still sleep with one eye open but at least she knows your safe.
- Put down the phone and have an adult conversation: Conversation, dialogue, people listening without interruptions is such a rarity today. Only if you’re on retreat or between 3am-6am is your phone mostly silent. (Mostly b/c of @pontifex Tweets). Guess what, you can ask your parents to do the same. You’ll be amazed at how fluid, deep, and fun talking to them can be. Here are some questions for you to ask them:
How are you? What’s new in life? What are you doing in your spare time without me around?
- It’s still their house, their rules: You may want to bring your new beau or belle over and introduce them to the fam-bam. Don’t be foolish to think that if you’re cohabiting with them elsewhere you can do so under your parent’s roof. Moral behavior isn’t subject to age or circumstance. Don’t put your parents in a moral dilemma because of your manner of living. They want you to be happy, yes, but they also want you to be holy. As I tell many engaged couples in marriage prep, "no ding-ding without the ring-ring". If you can’t deal with it, get a hotel and pay for it on your own.
I hope these help. Please share and care. Papa Frank, Pope Francis in “Joy of the Family writes, “The family is also a sign of Christ. It manifests the closeness of God who is a part of every human life, since he became one with us through his incarnation, death and resurrection.” Enjoy your families and Merry Christmas!
What are some tips or tricks you have to make holiday-home tension minimal?