“Yes, my child is home, but…”
If you are like me, I love being together with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, some years ago as a family, we made the decision to stay home for Christmas instead of traveling, simply because we love being with our family in our own home (Of course, it doesn’t help that my home’s interior and exterior look like a winter wonderland– Cathy makes it tough to want to travel).
I will never forget when our oldest came home for break the first time… we had built up so much excitement. The siblings were anxious to hang out; as parents, we had thoughts on his return, and our oldest had expectations as well. Little did we understand– our child had changed, we had changed, and we were about to experience change together as a family. Here are a few thoughts to consider as your child rejoins you at home this Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Manage Expectations: Whether you realize it or not, you, your student, and your family all have expectations. Expectations in any relationship can quickly derail meaningful fellowship into a crash course in disappointment. May I suggest early in the process of spending time together on break, discuss as a family how break will look. I often hear things like, “I wasn’t expecting my child to sleep so much,” “Wow, they are still studying and doing schoolwork” (yes, many will need to study to keep up), “My student spent a lot of time connecting with their roommates and friends,” and “I was expecting them to spend more time with us and their siblings.” You get the idea; all of these are manageable and great opportunities for teaching. However, this often becomes an issue if you do not identify it early. I am convinced one of the reasons expectations damage relationships are because we fail to communicate effectively.
Communicate Often: Take time to communicate often–before and during break–to determine family plans, develop patterns, and organize schedules that work for the entire family. If you sense you are not communicating well, I encourage you and your student to sit down and figure out communication together. Your student is arriving back from an environment where the schedule is rigorous, yet they have a margin to make many decisions. Communicating with one another allows your relationship to grow deeper as you move forward into this new season.
Rejoice with them: The past three months have been an intensive time of studying God’s Word, discipleship, and service for your student. They will have what will seem like countless stories, new biblical and theological discoveries, and hopefully, you will have seen spiritual growth in them. Rejoice with them in these new realities, and help them build on them.
Learn with them: As mentioned above, students have been learning from some of the best professors in Christian academia. They will want to share this with you! I want to encourage you to ask clarifying questions and dive in deep with them. You will love the outcome!
Provide Margin: For our First Year students, this will be their first time home since becoming a college student. Yes, they are studying God’s Word, but they have not “arrived.” Has anyone? They will need grace; you will need grace. Provide a margin for growth, provide a margin for rest, and give them time in God’s Word! Transparently, I think we all need time focused on growing in our walks with the Lord each and every day.
Support Wise Decision Making: This season of COVID-19 presents some interesting scenarios. We are challenging students to be extremely wise concerning government guidance and their personal health. I have shared with students repeatedly– one poor decision by one student could impact the entire class. We are asking them to take precautions while on break. When students return, we want to finish this year well. I am confident we have not had exposure on our campus only because of God’s grace and our students’ wise decision making. Encourage them to continue in wisdom, and support them in this process.
Masks have become the norm and should be worn whenever social distancing cannot be maintained. It is critical to remember that your student has not been living with family for the last few months, so it is recommended that they keep a safe distance and/or wear masks even around family to minimize the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus during breaks.
Students need to remain diligent with Covid-19 protocols when traveling during the break within the contiguous NY region. This article from the CDC can give official guidance and recommendations regarding the Thanksgiving Season.
While this list surely could have gone on much longer, I hope these words serve your family well. We at Word of Life Bible Institute are wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and blessed Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ!
We count it a joy to serve your student. If we can better serve you in any way, please feel free to reach out.