A DRAMA-FREE SUMMER WITH THE PARENTALS

There’s a saying, “Some people get ulcers and some people give them!”

Unfortunately, I fit the second part all too well while growing up. My poor family suffered through my first summer home from college. I loved my college friends and had built close relationships that I didn’t want to leave. I am pretty sure I complained a lot and made everyone miserable! Misery loves company so I “invited” everyone into my craziness!I didn’t know how to merge back into family life well that summer.

Whether you’re a student at home for the summer or a parent welcoming your child home, summer can be a time of adjustment for both student and family. Any time our routines are disrupted, whether a welcome disruption or not, we need to learn how to adapt to change. Not only has the college student been living life apart from the family, the family has learned new ways to operate without said student at home. Adjustment comes for all – but this does not have to be a bad thing!

What I love about God’s word is that it speaks to all aspects of our lives. Sometimes we assume that God is only concerned with the do’s and don’ts…that is actually so far from the truth.  He’s our Heavenly Father who wants His children to live in harmony and unity. So, when we are facing any challenge with our family, God’s word has the best advice for sure!

While I’m not an authority on children or parents, I have worked with college students for two decades and I’ve made some observations about this time at home that I think could help your summer go smoothly.

First, let’s see what God’s Word says about unity and family:

Romans 14:19
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

Ephesians 6:1-4
“Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

What could your summer look like if you make EVERY effort to do what leads to peace and edification? Whether you’re the child honoring your parents or the parent loving your child, if you keep that as a goal, imagine what a special time this summer can be! Healthy relationships take effort – they just do. Here are some practical suggestions I hope will lay some groundwork for a great summer.

College Student living at home:

  • You’re back in your family’s home – show respect for family rules and expectations. Have a conversation early on with your parent(s) about their expectations of you. Try to talk with them as the mature adult you’ve been growing into at school.
  • Seek compromise instead of demanding your way.
  • Show respect to your parents by letting them know your plans.
  • MAKE time during your day to “refuel” spiritually. Having a different schedule can make this tough, but if you fit this in, everyone’s summer will go more smoothly!
  • Look for things to do at home that will serve your family. Don’t just wait to be asked – be proactive and show your parents you’re responsible and can help at home.
  • Be present with your family and put your phone down to engage in conversation.
  • Think about what needs to happen for you to have no regrets when summer ends. In 20 years you will still have your parents but you may or may not know those friends. Choose to make your family a priority – it’ll be worth it.

Parent with a college student living at home:

  • Remember she isn’t used to having curfews and rules while away at school. She hasn’t needed your permission while away – it’s hard to return home where freedom seems lost.
  • Don’t assume she knows what you expect of her. Have a conversation about summer expectations and honor her input.
  • Don’t be offended when she refers to school as “home” – this is not intended to insult you! It’s that weird reality of having two homes.
  • Pray for her to experience good things while home. So often they don’t know how to handle not having their friends from school around and they fight boredom if not in a routine of some kind.
  • Seek her input on some decisions – show her you trust her and value her opinion as a young adult.
  • Be intentional with this limited time to spend together. What would it look like at the end of the summer for you to have no regrets?
  • Find your strength to be patient and love with God’s love by consistent time recharging with Him!

I did not get the value of intentionality with my family until after college. My youngest sister and I had a huge fight one summer and when she said she’d rather be one of my friends than my sister – I finally got it. From that time on my relationships with my sisters has grown to where we are our biggest supporters and encouragers. Family is forever so investing time into those relationships is well worth it.

Wouldn’t it be so great to get to the end of your summer and know that you’ve loved those around you well?

We would love to hear how your summer goes! Let us know what kinds of things helped you have a successful summer!


Millie Welsh, RGM Executive Director 

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