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Reader: How do you survive a college summer living at home with your parents?
Ogonna: I don’t know about you, but I get hit with a sudden gust of tension every time I step into my house. I feel like I have to sneak in — every during the daytime — just to avoid getting bombarded with rapid-fire questions about how I spent the past hour that I wasn’t under the careful watch of my parents’ eyes. How to deal? I’m still struggling through it myself, but I have picked up on a few things that might relieve the annoyance.
Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings and legal guardians of the like might hold the record for being the clingiest people. They find the idea that you don’t want to spend every waking moment of your life with them preposterous. Having you leave home for months at a time could be really hard for them to handle, so we have to understand that they just want to spend as much time with us as possible.
I’m not saying ditch your friends and have a playdate at home, but give one day or plan one event for family time. Be the first one to ask your mom or dad to dinner, the movies, sporting events, a family game night, or even mani-pedis. Reaching out first shows you care and they’ll feel included in your life. This way, you’re spending time with them, just not all your time with them, and they’ll be more lenient to let you loose after they’ve gotten their fill of quality time. Plus, they’ll be more likely to foot the bill on outings, which isn’t a bad thing for us broke college kids.
It’s hard for parents to see you as an adult when you’ll always be their child, but a respectful reaction to disagreements is the best way to show you’ve grown. You could start by reminding them how they trust you to live at school, get good grades and plan for your future, so you’d like to be treated the same at home. There will come a time when you’ll have to make your own decisions without your parents’ influence, so the sooner you start, the more they can see the path you’re building for yourself and get used to it. They don’t necessarily have to agree with everything, but give them time to adjust. Remember to thank them for their support, encouragement and trust (and financial support when needed) so they know you appreciate them, even during arguments.
Our caretakers ultimately want the best for us and can’t help but show their love by suffocating us with it. While our natural reaction is distance, we have to remember that there will come a time when we won’t be in their care. Show your appreciation for them now and make the most of the time you can spend together.