As parents look forward to being reunited with their Fordham students over the winter break, the anticipation of being together may overshadow the fact that it might take some getting used to being under the same roof again. Fordham’s residence life experts offer some tips for making the most out of your student’s time at home.
Jenifer Campbell, director of residential life for Lincoln Center, said her biggest piece of advice is to negotiate the boundaries in advance and set clear expectations.
For example, curfew conversations tend to be an area that causes disagreements in families. While students shouldn’t expect to come home at 5 every morning during break, parents should also recognize that their student has been living independently for the past few months.
The key is that both sides be willing to give a little, Campbell said.
“It’s all about laying out the ground rules and negotiating expectations as you would anything as a family,” Campbell said.
“You raised them to explore. This is part of that exploration, that they’re not going to be underfoot all the time.”
Campbell said in her experience, “the best approach is the direct approach,” and she counsels students to speak directly to their parents about any schedule constraints or expectations.
Parents can follow suit by clearly communicating priority events, such as family holiday celebrations, and asking their students what other items they have on their agenda during the break.
For parents who are feeling a bit disappointed that their children are making lots of plans away from family, Kimberly Russell, director of residential life for Rose Hill, reminds parents that it’s a long break.
“Don’t fret if they decide to catch up more with friends than with family at first. They are home for several weeks for winter break,” Russell said.
Campbell adds that it’s good opportunity for parents to remember that their children are simply growing up. “They are basically doing exactly what you want them to do in being away from the nest and becoming young, independent adults,” she said.
Russell suggested making the most of the time parents have with students over break by being proactively interested in their new life at Fordham. Students have gone through significant changes since you’ve last spent time with them. Taking the initiative to show interest in their new life can make all the difference.
“Use this as a time to reconnect, hear about their new friends, talk about their classes, and discuss their involvement in the community. They have a lot of new things to share with you and it’s important to ask them to share their insight,” Russell said.
Also important to remember: Your students are recovering from a busy season of final exams. Let them sleep in!
by Jennifer Spencer