HoweHoThe new trendy word for maturation into adulthood is “adulting” which is very relevant as the Thanksgiving and the Christmas break approaches. Look at the below definitions for this word. Holidays and the semester break can be quite challenging with returning college students who are adulting at different rates and equally challenging for the students who return to old environments but with new dynamics.

Adulting (from Oxford Dictionary)


The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.

EX: it feels really good to take a step back from adulting and have someone else cook dinner for me’;  as modifier ‘I finished all my adulting requirements for the week’
Adulting (from Urban Dictionary)

    (v): to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.

    (v): to do grown-up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.

Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8 am and appears well-groomed.

Goals for healthy visit home:
Good mix of independence and family time
Family time includes traditions, reconnecting and being known. Hurdles include fractured relationships, past hurt or disrespect, and areas of shame from the previous semester.
Independence includes time with friends, making decisions about the schedule and social interactions
Clear Expectations
  • covering expectations includes the understanding of how each other lived for the last 4 months
  • also includes boundaries, curfews, sleeping-in to rest/recover, finances, mutual respect, manners. How strict/respectful will this time be?
  • The culture is different, culture shock is a real thing and can be on a continuum from subtle to extreme. Healthy transition will require good navigation of this time.
  • Where will I sleep? The home may be a different place, be sure to discuss living arrangements for the next few weeks. Also, who is driving what car?
  • What expectations involve other members of the family, especially in areas where there are step-parents, parents in different houses, or cousins, siblings, etc.
  • What topics are off-limits or more sensitive and need a special atmosphere to discuss?
  • Be careful to avoid inquisitions or information dump, dialogue at a good pace.
  • Discuss this stuff in advance!

Parents want to discuss how the semester went and Students want a break.
Questions both should ask:
  • How do we balance accountability, encouragement, and hearing/tell of the stories?
  • What were the highs and lows since we’ve last connected? Be prepared to discuss passion, struggle, adventure, vision for the future.
  • What if college, school, location, living arrangements, major isn’t the right fit?
  • Where do you see yourself post-graduation?
  • What have my parents been up to? Any family updates regarding health, extended family, schedules for summer, etc?
  • What is going on in the area of faith? This is or can be a dynamic area.
  • What are things we can affirm about each other and not just in the area of performance? Some students can be sensitive or oversensitive to being judged or critiqued. Consider asking each other for feedback or about the desire to give or receive feedback or mentoring.
  • What do I/we miss about you while we’re apart and what don’t we miss?
  • What if my friends from back home are different now?
  • When is it time to leave? What needs to be different next time, next summer?
Identity development is addressed or at least respected.
Friends, Faith and the Future are huge here. This student/These parents are not the same in some ways as they were before when all were under the same roof.
  • Empty nesters need to consider their identity as well, esp after investing so much into launching high schoolers off to college.
  • Students may have encountered acceptance or rejection in various ways during their semester from places like organizations, greek life, dating, church,  or new peers or jobs. This broadens their world and will impact the family system.

How are you approaching time returning home?