Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on September 6, 2008



 One of the most difficult things about going away to college is coming back home for a month over Winter Break.  Some of you left for the University of Toronto this fall quite sad to leave your parents behind; others of you were surely ecstatic to escape the intensifying Cold War that symbolized the last two or three years of your high school experience.  Either way, after four months of eating, sleeping, and studying at whatever time of night you want, some awkwardness is bound to ensue when you find yourself back under Mom and Dad’s roof.  Remember, your parents, especially if you are the first child to go to college, have no frame of reference for dealing with this situation either.  They will be operating under the assumption that the old rules still apply; you will assume that they are fools for not immediately recognizing your new-found adulthood.  This can lead to some disastrous, though perhaps later hilarious (if the wounds ever heal), situations.  For example, early in December 1998, I watched my best friend Jerry call his mother a “Schoolmaster Bitch” because she wanted him home by midnight.  Needless to say, this made Christmas a little touchy for the Coleridge family.  


          So, here’s some good advice for avoiding Jerry’s situation and Bridging the Parental Divide: during your first semester, cultivate some common interests with your parents.  Listen, your folks are probably way more fascinating people than you ever noticed while you were in high school.  Just like you, they have interests and hobbies that don’t all revolve around watching tuba recitals and football games.  Let’s say, for instance, that your mom is really into gardening, and your step-father loves Steely Dan, the Moody Blues, and professional bass-fishing.  If you are like most high-school students, these are things you probably haven’t thought much about in the last four years.  But now it’s time to use your parents’ interests for the good of the family, and for the good of your curfew.


          Step 1 – Over the next four months, take a little time to start listening to Steely Dan (who knows, maybe you’ll find they’re like coffee – an acquired taste you eventually come to love).  Step 2 – Buy a few houseplants for your dorm room and try to keep them alive.  And, finally, Step 3 – Occasionally wake up and nurse your hangover by watching one of those crazy bass-fishing television shows on Saturday morning.  This will give you something to talk about with your parents when you call them during the semester (you’d be surprised how few college students talk about anything other than themselves during these conversations), and more importantly, this will give you some leverage when you go home to visit.  If you’ve taken the time to buy your step-father a Moody Blues bootleg for Christmas and you’ve spent a few hours helping your Mom in the garden, they’re more likely to let you stay out until two-in-the-morning without bringing Armageddon to your happy suburban home.  Plus, by hanging out with your parents on a different level than you did while in high school, you’ll get to know them as people.  This is the first major step in transitioning your relationship out of guardian-child and into the one you want with them in the future.  Nothing will make your folks see you as an adult quicker than having conversations with them about topics other than yourself.   Well, that, and someday becoming financially independent.  Also, it’s helpful not to get repeatedly arrested for public indecency.   


2 Responses

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  1. CS said, on September 7, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Letting Steely Dan into your heart won’t just make you a better son or daughter – it will make you a better person.

  2. drwizard said, on September 8, 2008 at 3:48 am

    There was a 99.7% that you would make a comment on this post, CS. No one likes Steely Dan more than you, and that includes the band’s parents. BTW, I wonder how Steely and Dan bridged the parental divide? Probably by purchasing Lawrence Welk bootlegs.

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